Monday, March 29, 2010

Kite Festival

On this dreary, rainy day, please join me in welcoming Spring to our Nation's Capital. Let me even be so bold as to kiss those snow days goodbye (at least until next winter). And for those of you who haven't completely bought in to the glass half full philosophy of "April showers bring May flowers," I present to you the Kite Festival.

To the uninitiated, the Kite Festival is the highlight of the first day of Washington's famous Cherry Blossom Festival. More importantly, it is just another reminder of why we love living here.

Excuse my overuse of hyperbole, but the National Mall is one of my favorite places. Period. Now cover it in the youthful exuberance of children and child-like adults celebrating something as primal as Spring, as whimsical as homemade kites, as beautifully simple as blooming flowers... awesome. Call me a romantic, but all this makes the crowds and other minor annoyances of Spring-induced tourism almost melt away.

If the Kite Festival is a highlight of the week, then the climax is the Rokkaku Challenge. Readers of The Kite Runner may remember a competition where kite-wielding teams attempt to cut or "clobber" opposing kites. Well, this is it.

A kite competition seems like an oxymoron that would illicit more head-scratching than interest, but thanks to a Gus Johnson-esque announcer, it is a fascinating and even dramatic event. If nothing else... it is unique. Unique to our adopted home.

J Says

When I was living in California and B was living in DC, he went to the Kite Festival and took some great photos of a beautiful sky filled with colorful kites. Ever since then I have wanted to see the Festival for myself. It took four long years for me to get there, but I finally made it!

It was great to see people of all ages looking skyward as they tried to navigate their kites through the crowded skies around the Washington Monument. We saw everything from homemade paper kites to uber-professional giant spinning kites. My favorite part was the Rokkaku kite fighting competition. When I read The Kite Runner I didn't have a good feel for what it meant to cut a kite out of the sky, and it was so much fun to see it for myself and to cheer on my favorite kites. The announcer was as informative as he was enthusiastic, so I learned more than I ever needed to know about kite fighting strategy.

Though I've never been a good kite flyer (memories of kites slamming into the ground and breaking come to mind), the Kite Festival made me want to get out there and join the fun next year. I have a year to figure out how to get and keep my kite off the ground...


Alix said...


J said...

I don't know Alix. What do they bring?