March 30
Crowded Skies Over Washington DC

It has been an extraordinarily busy week in GombergLand.

Our good friends, Kevin and Linda Sanders of Australia came back from Fort Worden with me and spent a few days visiting before the start of the Lincoln City Indoor Kite Festival. Featured performers there were Debbie and Lee Park who stunned audiences with the combination of skillful flying and graceful gymnastics though out the four day program.

Park Flying Park Flying Park Flying

The Parks joined us Gombergs and Sanders for dinner Wednesday and then we flew off to the Smithsonian. Departure was at 4:00 am Thursday for our cross-countrty flight.

Our informal Festival Group was just beginning to gather. The following morning we picked up Kurt and Fay Lisk and Al Sparling just in time for some capitol touring.

Glen and Tanna Haynes of Pennsylvania arrived the night before and spent some quality time with the Sanders who they had met years earlier at Long Beach in Washinton State.

Saturday, Mike and Judy Agner drove up from North Carolina to join the group. And Allan Robb with his grandson Nick drove in from Virginia to fly with us.

Capitol Tour

The Smithsonian kite festival was founded by Paul Garber and is now enjoying its 38th year. It is a wonderfully unique kite gathering, held right in the center of the capitol on the National Mall.

Foul Weather Fliers

Congress is at one end of the field, the Washington Monument at the other. Smithsonian Museums border the grass and the White House is close enough that you need to pull kites in every time the presidential helicopters land.

This Smithsonian festival started with rain. The good news is that we found parking easily. But dragging big kites out to a wet field is never very encouraging. Starting times for all events was pushed back to noon and gradually, the weather began to clear.

The one-day festival focuses on traditional contests held in a marked flying area. Kitemakers, young and old, line up to have their creations evaluated on the ground for craftsmanship, and then in the air for flight and visual appeal.

Smithsonian Festival Fliers Smithsonian Festival Fliers Smithsonian Festival Fliers

Another field is designated for demonstrations. Markers set it off from the open flying spaces, but without any safety officials or controls in sight, it was quickly overrun by hoards of happy children flying an unimaginable variety of kites in an equally unimaginable variety of directions

Smithsonian Festival Fliers Smithsonian Festival Fliers

We tried to fly larger kites but quickly realized that any such efforts would be unruly and reckless. Better to plunge in with something smaller and join the mayhem. Thousands of people with kite flying grins spread across their faces can't be wrong. And who is to say whom the designated field was designated for....

New friends like Mike Schield stopped by to introduce themselves. And downwind, we found the Barrow Family threading sleds and inflatables up into the soup of lines and paper kites.

I took a moment to apologize to Jocelyn and Caitlin for letting Dad Dee spend all their college money on new kites....

Barrow Clan

We all packed up late Saturday afternoon and then gathered in the bowels of the Smithsonian for a volunteer appreciation party hosted by the Smithsonian Associates.

Running a festival downtown anywhere draws media. But in downtown DC you have extra obvious advantages. Despite the lack of spectacle we usually associate with major kite events, crowds were massive and media coverage was intense.

Barrow Clan

Monday I was asked to meet with CNN for a live broadcast about National Kite Month, supplemented with footage of the festival.

Susie and I found a parking spot, met the crew, set up kites and got wired and checked. I called my mother and even emailed the AKA membership to let them know of the national broadcast.

Two minutes before we were scheduled to go live, a decision came down in the Tyco corporate corruption case and the broadcast was preempted. I really hate corporate corruption....

Anyway, we're home and working hard to get the newest shipments out to all of you. Thursday I head for the desert for the Sprint Break Buggy Blast. See you out there!!

Aluminum Swivels:

I just got my hands on a few of these cool European swivels. They handle about 800 pounds and are two inches long. You wouldn't want to try them on your big Crown, but they would work well for lots of other stuff.

Sorry to report that the cost is $20 each. But they are well worth it. And quantities are quite limited.

Aluminum Swivel

Streamers

Streamer Flag Sale! Streamers are about the coolest thing we have going. And right now we are fully stocked. That's means its a great time for a sale!

We have two sizes -- two feet wide and seventy-five feet long for $35 or eighteen inches wide and thirty-five feet long for just $19. Buy three and we'll knock 20% off. Colors available are red, orange, yellow, green, blue. purple, black, and white.

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