February 21, 2006
Kites and Wishes -- a Great and Growing Event

You start with a stunning, tropical destination.

You add warm and gracious hospitality, a perfect flying field, and effective promotion and organization. Mix in a classy cross-section of international kiters. And then polish it off with an important and worthwhile cause.

What you get is Kites and Wishes in Guam.

Welcome to Guam

This was my second sojourn to an event designed as a fundraiser for the Make a Wish program of Guam. Last year, I had described it as a perfect festival. And this year, Susie had come along to see for herself.

Wish Banners

Make a Wish, as most of you know, raises funds and organizes “wishes” for kids with a terminal illness.

Blue banners ringed the flying field, each containing the name of one of the local “Wish Kids”. You had to stop and think hard about the fact that there were nearly 150 banners.

A worthwhile cause indeed.

Now understand that Guam is about as far as you can get from Oregon and still be in the USA. The trip took 18 hours, crossed the date line, connected through Japan, and landed at two in the morning. But it makes you feel pretty special when a representative of the Governor’s office is there in the middle of the night to greet you at the gate and whisk you through customs.

School Program School Program School Program

Everywhere we went on the island, people were familiar with the kite festival. We performed at schools, participated in warm-up shows, and were interviewed in an hour-long radio program.

Radio Time Radio Time Radio Time

The field is a grassy plain at the edge of a pristine white beach. Sixty years ago, the Marines had come ashore here to re-take the island from the Japanese. Now we were there flying with a contingent of Japanese and sharing the field as close friends. (Click here for a historic photo.)

Flying Field

It is an ideal kiting space with a nearby highway, good visibility, and smooth winds. Anywhere else in the world, this would be a major kiting venue. And during my meetings with the Governor, Congressman, and business leaders, I argued that we should make Kites and Wishes into exactly that!

It is a long trip from the mainland. But Guam is unique as a US territory within easy reach of Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and China. Each could present their distinctive kiting culture in what could easily become a world class “Pacific Rim” kite gathering. And I’m sure plenty of Americans would be happy to fly over and join the fun.

Featured Fliers Featured Fliers Featured Fliers Featured Fliers Featured Fliers

Featured fliers this year included Modegi, Toki, Takeda, and Sato of Japan, Sanders of Australia, Bethel of Canada, and Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo as well as a contingent of Guam kiters.

Japanese Kites Japanese Kites Japanese Kites Japanese Kites Japanese Kites

Local turnout actually tripled for the festival. The estimated attendance was over 10,000 for the one-day gathering.

Flying Field

A major portion of the flying site was set aside for larger show kites.

Show Kites Show Kites Show Kites Show Kites

On another field, smaller kids kites filled the sky.

Show Kites Show Kites Show Kites

Hospitality? In five days, I think we enjoyed 25 meals. Sometimes, the lunch would end so we could go to dinner!! “When do we eat??” became a running joke.

Special treatment is the hallmark of Guam hospitality. Our room in the Outrigger hotel was luxurious and the staff friendly and exceptionally helpful. It is hard to imagine you are still in the States when the staff refuse to take tips.

Ray Bethell and I have a private little joke. When we find ourselves at an event where the wind is cold, the field too small, the organization imperfect, or the hotel less than it might be, we share a quick wink and observe that “It isn’t Guam”.

Hospitality

We're home now and working hard to get caught up. We have a single weekend at home and then head for Austin Texas and the Zilker Park Kite Festival. We fly home Monday and then take off Tuesday morning for Bangkok where 100 international fliers are scheduled to gather for a major show. We're packing one of the largest kites in the world, and twelve (yes TWELVE!!) giant Octopus. Should be an octo-pile of fun!!

Streamer Tails

Streamer Flag Sale!:

Gregg and Ron Mazzotta wrote from Massachusetts to tell us they were putting "heads" on our streamers and making Dragon Kites. They like the fabric -- and the price.

Great! We'll make the price even better! Order our 35 or 75 foot solid-color streamers between now and the end of February, we'll take off 20%. Check out more details on our Line Laundry All-Stars pages.

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