Every morning last week, organizers looked up at the sky and were answered with perfection.
Just about every day turned out superbly for the Washington International Kite Festival, with the warm sun cascading on a beach filled with beautiful color and swirling movement as thousands of kites created the most elegant man-made rainbow.
And those breezes? Perfect!
The 2017 edition of the festival is in the books, after yet another spectacular showing enhanced by a fairy godmother, keen kite pilots and those ever-so silly clowns.
Organizers appeared delighted with the turnout.
“We have no way to figure out how many people are here,” said Jane Holeman, event chairman, late Saturday afternoon, in between helping a festival volunteer reunite a missing boy with his parents — the second case that day. “At any one time, there could be 4,000 people on the approach.”
Holeman said last Monday was lightly attended because of broadcast media warnings about potential eclipse-related traffic on Interstate 5. “That was pretty slow. After that, it has gotten busier every day.” she said.
Among those to be thanked are the volunteers who made it possible, including leaders at the World Kite Museum, plus the hardworking city of Long Beach personnel, the Peninsula Sanitation staff who spearheaded the clean-up, as well as local law enforcement agencies who kept everyone safe.
The week-long event featured the traditional aerial competitions, kite building workshops, valuable photography tips, a mass ascension, a teddy bear drop, and even kites to memorialize those who died during the past year. New visitors brought the Buffalo Jump kites to celebrate Native American artwork in a colorful way (see related story); there were sport kites galore, with some spectacular duels in the sky.
First-time visitor Jill Johnson, 63, from Spokane, had fun shooting photos and video.
“My favorite thing is just being here and seeing the fantastic kites with the lights on them and the firecrackers afterward,” she said.
She was accompanied by Nancy Newman, 66, of Walla Walla. “I like the ocean and the colors,” Newman said. “I have been coming here for 20 years — I’m hooked! It’s relaxing and fun.”
Ellen Bair, 65, is a 1970 Ilwaco High School graduate who moved back to the Long Beach Peninsula from Longview in April. She, too, is a regular. “My favorite was the spacemen, and the way they did Nemo with the little babies around it,” she said.
Her husband, Ken, summed up the experience of many. “I just like watching the people, and petting the dogs and people watching,” he said.
For Holeman and her organizing crew, there’s a two- or three-week break and the work starts again.
“After Rod Run, we’ll pick apart what was right and wrong,” she said. “We really do end up working year-round.”
‘I’m hooked! It’s relaxing and fun.’
— Nancy Newman
longtime Kite Festival visitor from Walla Walla