Locals and tourists put their flying skills to the test this past weekend as the Blossom Kite Festival returned to Washington, D.C. after being on hold for two years due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Family, friends, and kite enthusiasts celebrated the festival’s 55th anniversary with all sorts of activities, performances, and competitions. Kites of all styles, sizes, shapes, and colors covered the National Mall. From homemade paper kites to octopi-shaped kites to 12-feet long zebra-shaped kites, the festival invited everyone to display their unique kites.
Near the Washington Monument, people of all ages found tents with various springtime activities. Kids made and decorated scores of paper kites. The Embassy of Japan invited people to make sakura kirigami and other paper souvenirs using Cherry Blossom Festival stamps. Parachute games offered exercise and non-competitive games.
Don Stark started flying kites when he was just a little boy and rediscovered them later in life. This has become one of his favorite pastimes.
“Sometimes, it is just a way to relax and get the real world out of my head.” Stark said, “back in the day, I used to drive here to the Mall…fly a kite for an hour on Friday nights and go back home.”
He is a member of the Wings Over Washington Kite Club and volunteers every year at the festival to repair kites, teach people how to fly them, and make at least “one kid smile,” he says.
Some attendees at the Blossom Kite Festival came up with innovative ideas. Gemmel Bacon, a resident from Laurel, Maryland, drove 30 minutes to the Washington Monument to sit back, relax, and fly his kite using a fishing pole.
Kites don’t have a reeling system to reel the string in, “so I said to myself, why not just have a reel to reel it in,” said Bacon. “When [my family and I] go to the beach, I always have a fishing pole and we take our kites. So I just combine them and it works out!”
During a competition at the festival, The Wings Over Washington Kite Club, The Kite Ballets, and 180 GO! teams demonstrated master synchronized kite movements displaying geometrical formations in the sky and aerial choreographed performances synchronized to music. Delighted spectators watched and determined the winner with cheers and applause.
The Cherry Blossom Festival will continue its four-week-long celebration until April 16. Visit its website to find out more about upcoming events.