Remember the kite-eating tree from the Peanuts comic strip? Every time Charlie Brown tried to fly his kite, the tree would snatch it from the sky and chew it up. Sometimes the string would be wrapped around the tree, sometimes it would be wrapped around Charlie Brown, leaving him to dangle upside-down from the branches helplessly like a meal for a spider.
That probably won’t happen to you if you attend the Kite Festival this year on the mall, because there aren’t that many trees nearby, and if you wait long enough they will all be full of other people’s kites and there won’t be any room for yours.
The Kite Festival, a component of the Cherry Blossom Festival, is in its seventh year and will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 31.
Each year on the appointed day, aspiring kite flyers congregate near the Washington Monument and spread out in all directions, searching for some airspace and the perfect updraft.
Some years they wear shorts and flip-flops, other years puffy coats and boots — that’s just D.C. in March.
Wind, which becomes a precious commodity in the middle of July when tourists waiting for their turn in the elevator to the top of the monument would likely exchange a sweat-soaked 20-dollar bill for a breath of fresh air, will hopefully be in full supply for the event.
The festival will showcase rokkaku battles (a rokkaku dako is a six-sided Japanese kite — check out this rokkaku battle at the Berkeley Kite Festival) and a Hot Tricks Showdown. This will undoubtedly feature young men whose parents told them that flying a kite wasn’t a real job and soon they would have to grow up and take some responsibility for themselves. They will fly delightful kites with more than one string and manipulate them into performing thrilling stunts the way they get their parents to spot them some cash every Friday so they can get their fabric-and-ribbon fix.
But don’t worry — you can still buy a kite at Target for $1.99 and come out and fly with the best of them.
Or you can make your own kite at home and fly it at the Kite Makers’ Competition, scheduled for 11 a.m. to noon. Separate prizes will be awarded for adults and youth (12 to 15 and 11 and under categories). Youths are allowed to enter kites made from a kit, and also may collaborate to enter as a group. Registration is directly prior to the event at the competition and will be at the demonstration field for adults and at the family field for youths. This year’s theme is Paint the Sky.
If you’re on a budget, not an artist or in a hurry, check out these directions for how to build a kite out of a trash bag. When you’re done flying it, you can walk around the mall filling it with the pieces of broken kites, empty water bottles and lost binkys that will litter the ground.
Oh, and don’t forget to look at the cherry blossoms while you’re down there.