August 23, 2005
The Big Show in Long Beach

For much of the festival week, the fog was so dense on the Washington Shore that you could wave your hand through the air and see the trace of fingerprints left in the mist. But Saturday morning, the sun burst through, the clouds evaporated, and America's largest kite festival sparkled.

Bol Parade

After 24 years, Long Beach has evolved into a well-oiled kite machine. There are special events and ascensions each day to keep the pace moving and changing. Fun challenges begin the week, competitions dominate Wednesday and Thursday, and for the weekend, demonstrations and spectacle are the focus. And throughout it all, large kites fill the open space around the formal performance areas.

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As the Flat and Bowed Ascension got underway, I snapped a few photos to give you a taste to this great show. There are actually ascensions each day with a five-piece pin section awarded to each daily participant. Fly all Ascensions and build the entire trophy!

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As a nice addition, the ten best kites in each show are selected by a panel of judges and given a special color pin. The "Top Ten" competition encourages participants to not only join in, but to bring their best kites to the field.

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Other events include challenges for best ground display, rokkaku battles, fighter kite contests, learn-to-fly fields, and a banner parade on Saturday. Long Beach also has the longest-running program of internationals guests of any festival in the country.

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So Long Beach has something great to see up close. But when you step back and look at the horizon, the scene is even more amazing. This year, giant Suttons with streamers, tubes, spinners, and a host of mid-sized inflatables filled the air.

Panorama

The sky show was as bold as Fano in Europe, and as colorful as the great kite gatherings of Japan.

450 Streamers Big Bugs 450 Streamers

Just as Berkeley has become known for the Octo-Pile of giant kites, Long Beach has become a haven for the large Crowns and Bols. Few other beaches have the room of these powerful bouncers, or allow cars on the sand to help anchor them.

Saturday, we made arrangements for nine of the big pieces to come into the main arean and form a backdrop for the traditional banner parade. As each successive piece opened, the crowd cheered. And when the final one inflated, people rose to their feet with approving applause.

Bol Parade Bol Parade Bol Parade

Sunday the winds dropped off and fliers spend the morning whishing each other safe travels and a fond farewell. Over the years, regular participants have grown into an extended klan of kiters. Each year, new participants are indoctrinated -- or perhaps adicted to this grand event.

Come next year and experience it yourself.

Each year in Long Beach, I am privileged to announce the newest inductees to the World Kite Museum Hall of Fame. This year, the committee surprised me by adding an announcement they wouldn't let me make.

For once, I was speechless.

It is a very great honor, and a humbling experience to receive this recognition and to have my name added to the wall alongside such kite luminaries as Lawrence Hargraves, Ben Franklin, Samuel Cody, Paul Garber, Domina Jalbert and Peter Lynn. I thank the Committee and my many friends who were a part of the selection process.

Hall of Fame

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