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May 8, 2007 > Go fly a kite

Go fly a kite

Family Kite Day will once again fill the skies with kites on Saturday, May 12

Every year, as the grip of winter's cold winds and stormy weather slips, Mother Nature shifts to longer days and warmer breezes heralding the approach of spring. Taking a cue from nature's signal, outdoor activities become more prevalent and less likely to be interrupted by inclement weather. A sure sign of spring is a blue sky, fluffy white clouds and colorful kites in the air. Linked to a slender string, kites dance, swoop and sometimes fight while traveling with and through air currents sweeping across the surface of the earth. Shape and function may have changed throughout the ages, but love for these creatures of the sky has consistently held a prominent place in many cultures throughout the world.

Mary Poppins' friend Bert had it right when he extolled the virtues of kites:

When you send it flyin' up there
All at once you're lighter than air
You can dance on the breeze

Over 'ouses and trees
With your fist 'olding tight
To the string of your kite

It is believed that kites originated in Asia 3,000 years ago for religious and military purposes. For some, kites are a New Year's tradition while others let them ascend with messages for heaven. Kites made their way to Europe with Marco Polo around the end of the 13th century, mostly as a curiosity. They became useful in the 18th and 19th centuries as methods to study wind, barometric pressure and electricity. The Wright brothers studied aerodynamics of kites to research flying machines and during World War I, British, French, Italian and Russian armies used kites to lift men to observe enemy camps. Kites were used for air rescue and target practice by the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Kite design led to Rogallo's 1948 flexi-wing, the modern hang glider and Jalbert's parafoil that introduced the sports parachute. Kites have changed shapes and become elaborate; now single line denizens of the skies are accompanied by two-line and four-line variations.

A chance to be "oldin tight" as your kite soars in the air and dances on the breeze comes every year when Family Kite Day arrives at Sportsfield Park next to the Silliman Center in Newark. Saturday, May 12 marks the seventh year of this event that draws thousands to revel in the sunshine and marvel at a sky filled with kites of all sizes and shapes.

Kites, music, carnival games and much more are the perfect way to celebrate the approach of summer and the joy of flight. If you are feeling hungry, firefighters, legendary for their prowess at putting out fires will demonstrate their skill with it. "Iron Chefs" of Newark Firefighters Local 1483 will grill hot dogs and hamburgers and the Newark Soccer Club will be on hand to supply delicious treats as well.

Decorate your own free kite (while supplies last) and watch it join hundreds of others in the sky. Spread a blanket on the grass and hear the Wadaiko Drummers, watch Jeremy the Juggler and the Jungle Joe Puppet Show. Then relax and listen to soft jazz, see kites dance to music, play carnival games, and jump in a bounce house. This and much more will be waiting for you at Family Kite Day.

Don't worry about parking, plenty of spaces are available. ...And one of the best parts of Family Kite Day - parking, music, games and shows are FREE.

So drop by for an hour or two and spend your afternoon with a kite that can "dance on the breeze" or just relax and enjoy the festivities.

Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let's go fly a kite
And send it soaring

Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite
Let's go fly a kite!

Family Kite Day
Saturday, May 12
Noon - 4 p.m.
Sportsfield Park at Silliman Recreation Complex
6800 Mowry Ave., Newark
(510) 742-4400

Easy Directions:
Take the Mowry Avenue Exit off 880 and go west just past Cherry Street (fire station on corner). Park and enjoy!

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