Teddy bears, frogs and even a giant squid were among the characters floating high above the La Vista Sports Complex on Sunday as members of the Midwest Winds Kitefliers gathered to promote world peace.
The One Sky, One World kite festival’s goal is to promote a peaceful world by using the multicultural symbol of the kite and the ocean of air that we all share. It’s held annually on the second Sunday of October, though not in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There will be kites up in the sky all around the world today,” said Randy Fox, a member of Midwest Winds since 1994. “I remember my first (kite) with my dad. The fresh air and the sun are wonderful.”
Fox builds his own kites and speaks to schoolchildren and others about the hobby. His workshop lasts about two hours, and he talks about the history of kite flying and being safe while doing it.
Founding father Ben Franklin, he said, serves as an object lesson of what not to do while flying a kite. Don’t fly a kite in a storm or near buildings or incorporate metal as Franklin famously did to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning.
Flying kites helps Bruce Kenkel relax. He works in information technology and has been a member of Midwest Winds since 1991.
“I work at a pretty stressful job, so to get out and just relax by painting the sky (with kites) is enjoyable,” Kenkel said. “It calms you, and everything just goes away.”
Kenkel owns about 80 kites, including some that are fairly expensive. But the price of a kite isn’t related to enjoying a beautiful day outside, he said.
“You don’t have to go crazy,” he said. “You can buy a $5 kite at Walmart and have just as much enjoyment.”
Kites are a symbol of the relationship between humans and nature, according to the One Sky, One World website. The hope is that the art and entertainment activities associated with the event lead to community enjoyment, friendship and environmental awareness.
Don Murphy, president of Midwest Winds, said the weather was cooperating, with temperatures in the 60s and winds at 12 to 15 mph. Like so many other activities, the club’s events took a hit during the pandemic, he said.
“Every event was canceled all across the country,” Murphy said. “We were holding at least two events a month and then nothing.”
As the pandemic subsides, clubs are again filling their calendars with events. Anyone interested in learning more about kite flying can contact Midwest Winds through its Facebook page.
“The next really big event will be the second weekend of February in Clear Lake, Iowa, for one of the largest ice kite flying events in the United States,” Murphy said. “Get away from the Nintendo and get out there, fly a kite and enjoy the fresh air.”
Fox and Kenkel both pointed to the friendships they’ve made through the club as an overlooked benefit of kite flying.
“There’s the fresh air and the sun and the kite flying that brought me out today,” Fox said. “It’s the friends you make, though, that keep drawing you back.”