When I was a grade school kid growing up inCampbell, California I got hooked on flying kites. For me, it was almost as exciting as Christmas morning!
Every February the wind would pick up around my birthday, and upon receiving the new kite I always asked for, my friend Kent and I would spend hours after school, flying our kites as high, as far, and as long as possible.
Eventually, the wind would take one kite, and a telephone wire or a tall tree would take another....so we'd just hike down to the five and dime store and buy more with our allowance money. This ritual lasted us about a month, until little-league season started up!
Looking decades back, I still cherish those fond memories, and this weekend I'm going to re-live some of them at the annual 'Berkeley Kite Festival'. If you happen to be looking for a great way to spend a few hours, I highly recommend this fantastic two-day event!
It happens this Saturday, July 31st and Sunday, August 1st at Cesar E. Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina, where thousands upon thousands of kites (of all kinds) will fill the summer sky.
However, there's much more to experience at this festival. You'll witness multi-line competitions of the Bay Area Sport Kite League, and also battling kite contests called 'candy drop' and 'rokkaku'.
Traditional kites will also be displayed by special guests the 'Sode-Cho Kite-Flying Society' from Hamamatsu, Japan, and giant creature kite shows put on by the 'Berkeley Kite Wranglers and Friends'.
Visitors can also receive hands-on demonstrations of the latest kite products from 'Ozone Kites', 'Revolution Kites' and 'Prism Designs". Children are also invited to free kite making lessons, while families are provided with thier own, large kite-flying area.
When lunch time comes, a huge array of food will be available, from sushi to seafood, corn on the cob, onion rings, and 'Ben and Jerry's' ice cream, along with an array of souvenir shops to visit. To save a little money, you can always pack a picnic lunch.
Thousands of kites and products will also be on sale, from beginner, intermediate and advanced, to low-wind kites, to exotic parafoils with prices ranging from $16.99 to $599.00.
Above all, be make sure you take in the breathtaking kite competitions, especially the famous air ballet--where kites tumble, twirl, dance and dartthrough the air, accompanied by fantastic musical ballads.
And, don't miss the exciting kitebattles,where the object is tosever the enemy's kite line(string)with your own line that's been dipped in a glass-like resin!
For added enjoyment, you may want to arrive at the park an hour earlier than planned, to avoid parking hassles. Parking is $10, and includes free shuttle service to all venues--and remember to bring a coat just in case! Tricky winds at a marina may spell chills at the end of the day.
To find the event from Hwy 80 (East Shore Freeway), take the University Ave exit in Berkeley. GoWesttowards the Bay. As you approach the Marina, follow signs leading to the Double Tree Hotel. Go a half-mile past the hotel to the "turning circle' at Cesar E. Chavez Park, and look for the kites in the sky!
Above all, stay warm, have fun and enjoy the time of your life at the 2010 Berkeley Kite Festival! For more information, call (501) 235-KITE or Email Contact:BerkeleyKiteFest.