Issue 36: Magic at Ocean Beach

What it is about certain people who magically promote happiness into your soul and even alter your life for the better? These individuals lurk in abundance and many are unaware of their own talents. My personal experience with one delightful individual was fully instrumental in getting me enthused about kite flying clear to the point that I now own seven single-line kites, something unheard of in my life a year ago. The sport kiter focused in this report is Larry Medina of Daly City, California, a small suburb adjacent to San Francisco.

I live near Ocean Beach in San Francisco that belongs to our Golden Gate National Recreational Area. Here lies a five-mile stretch of spacious sand that beckons your appetite for kite flying. Over the years, I enjoyed the various single line kites sailing happily in the air currents. However, it was Larry’s unique sport kite that faithfully captured my attention for it stood far apart from the rest.

Larry is self-taught and uses an Adrenaline stunt kite and several similar ones with an attached 100-foot rainbow tube tail. Yes, 100-feet of rainbows! The mesmerizing performance of his kites showcases the graceful swirls of intricate loops, twisting, turning, snaking, spinning and the outline of the number “8” is repeated many times through the beach air. You watch reverently as the kite soars straight up, hovers for a second then dives quickly toward the sand, only to shoot up once more on a dime with the graceful sweeping tail obeying the kite’s every maneuver. That magic tail! The sound! It slices through the atmosphere like a sensual “sky dancer” performing just for you!

Larry comes out most every day if winds are good and flies for hours. He’s fun to watch as well as he moves forward, backward with often a foot in the air. Real pizzazz! Passersby are faithfully enchanted with the hypnotic spell of his artistic maneuvers and have stopped talk to him right in the midst of their own destinations. Drivers will even pause or turn back to watch something completely captivating that has the power to cleanse whatever is on your mind. Sometimes when he takes a much-needed break, a small thunderous applause has roared over the seawall! Any size audience is ready to share their excitement with whoever is nearby.

A family man, now retired, worked all his life in service for others, and now is fulfilling the second part of his life, as a joy to others. In my interview, Larry remembered several humorous sidelights he experienced over the years while magically flying the hours away. On few occasions, dogs would frantically chase the tail’s shadow; however, one dog in particular chased the real tail and got royally tangled up in it. It took the owner to carefully unravel the tail off of Fido! On another occasion, a guy was attempting to launch his single line crocodile kite by running backward while releasing line; however, he kept back running into the ocean when a two-fisted wave barreled in and drenched him up to his knees! Strangely, his wife seemed unable to foresee a problem and could have spared hubby from salt watered pants. Across the highway, there are many diners at the Beach Chalet that usually get a hefty “kite show” with their meal. One day after lunch, a lady came over to closely observe Larry to see what he is doing, to which Larry smiled with a mischievous sparkle in his eye, questioned: “Well, where’s my coffee?”

Then came a radiant episode, so beautiful and heartwarming that I became a part of it myself. Three children were playing and dancing around and under the undulating kite tail and screamed every time it came over their heads. Although, I was busy snapping their photos, I left my anchored kites to join the fun while their father continued the photography. In that spontaneous half hour, we immersed ourselves in the tapestry of tranquility unfolding in the sky with the rainbow dragon cutting through the breeze and under our feet and whipping through the wind. Such innocent joy is reminiscent of days gone by. That sport kite is priceless and Larry knows it, for he increased the kite’s crescendo to swirl and spin this ecstasy accordingly. Whew!

I am now discovering kiters as a whole to be a special breed unto their own. Although, Larry fills the bill, he is also a charmer and finds every opportunity to help other kiters by using his substantial knowledge of kite equipment and handling. He designates special moments to give advice or assistance and has been an enormous help to me in a way I never expected or even dreamed of.

Indeed, we are in for a treat in 2004 when Medina and Co. will attempt to fly a large colorful set of stacked Dyna kites. Will I be there for the opening ceremony? You bet your kite tails!!

Now, if I can only fly mine . . . any style!!

Joan H. Laurino