Rain comes, wind goes, kites fly

Katherine Fisher, an 11-year-old Oak Harbor resident, helps her father fly a kite with a teddy bear attached.  - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Katherine Fisher, an 11-year-old Oak Harbor resident, helps her father fly a kite with a teddy bear attached.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

For a dozen years in a row, the Whidbey Island Kite Festival has been blessed with near-perfect kite-flying weather. The combination of sun and wind at Camp Casey has drawn enthusiasts and competitors from all over the state.

Mother Nature threw a wrench in the works this year, with rain on Saturday and faint winds Sunday.

But that didn’t stop the fun. The kites still flew in the drizzle of Central Whidbey. Patient kite-flyers were rewarded when the wind picked up. Organizers improvised the teddy bear drop, a very popular event with children. Instead of dropping stuffed animals from a kite, they threw them for each child to catch. And the kids were fine with that.

A combination of kite-flying aficionados and amateurs joined the festival, as they do each year.

Katherine Fisher, an 11-year-old girl who recently moved to Oak Harbor, was extremely enthusiastic about flying kites. She said it was the first time she’s “really flown one” and she loved it.

“I like to be able to control something above you,” she said. “I like to imagine what it would be like to fly like a kite, to see everything from above.”

Katherine and her parents, Dan and Sara Fisher, rigged up a large, multi-colored kite to fly with a teddy bear tied on. The little guy soared high into the air.

Jerry and Glenda Graham of Bonney Lake are very serious about kite flying, but their puppy, Panda, hasn’t made up her mind yet. The couple discovered the hobby late in life, after escaping L.A., to move to Washington.

“If it wasn’t for kites, I doubt either of us would still be alive,” Jerry said.

Flying kites is a year-round passion for the Grahams, who describe themselves as “single liners.” They are in contrast to the two-line sports kite flyers, who competed all day at the festival in amazing aerial ballets.

When the Grahams aren’t flying them, they’re making them. They’ve created so many they’ve lost count.

“There’s something really satisfying about seeing your own work fly for the first time,” Jerry said.

One of the highlights of the event was the kite-making for kids booth. With a thin piece of plastic, a couple of sticks, string and some tape, children created small kites that took to the skies with ease.

Ashly Brown, a 5-year-old Seattle resident, colored her kite to look like stained glass. It was the first kite festival for Ashly, her parents, Mark and Kristi Brown, and her little sister, 2-year-old Abby.

“It’s kind of fun to fly them and watch them move around,” she said.

The Browns often come to the Coupeville area to visit the children’s grandparents, David and Virginia Brown. So they knew what the weather is usually like at Camp Casey.

“It’s awfully strange to get a day out here without wind,” Mark said Sunday afternoon. “It just doesn’t happen.”

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