Issue 38: Cleveland Kite Festival

Kitefliers from all across the Midwest gathered on September 11-12 for the Cleveland Kite Festival in Cleveland, on the Ohio Lakefront.

No one ever mentions what “Edition” this festival would be, but the kitefliers from the Ohio Society for the Elevation of Kites (O.S.E.K.) have been flying at Edgewater park since around 1977 , the year this club was formed! CKF is a kite festival geared toward, “Educating Cleveland about Kiteflying” Harry Gregory, O.S.E.K.’s current president and event announcer spent most of his time “On the Air” explaining to the spectators about kiteflying, and all the kites in the air.

The event kicked off on Saturday morning with a Red White and Blue Mass ascension. Typical early light winds made all the fliers work a little harder, but around noon the “beautiful” Lake Erie winds arrived!

On June 13th of this year one of the Founding members of O.S.E.K. in 1977. Mike Weletyk, passed away. Mike was a kiteflier devoted to Kite Trains, He flew large trains which he anchored to the bed of his pickup truck. Mike flew large trains of diamonds, which he spray painted and using stencils, he noted every event he supported and every person he honored.

Mike Weletyk inspired many trains kitefliers in the Midwest to build and fly kite trains. We held a “Memorial Train Ascension” for Mike at the 2004 CKF. By 1:00 the demo field had eight kite trains flying along with three arch trains. For a total of 835 kites. (A new record for “Most Kites in the Air at an Ohio Festival) Jim Gibson, O.S.E.K.’s VP contributed six of the nine trains. Cheryl Kear flew a beautiful handmade nylon Korean style train, and I contributed 80 kites made out of the Sunday Funnies! The winds were so “smooth” off Lake Erie that the trains remained flying throughout the day becoming the back drop for the kids and adult Wind Sprints and the Mystery Ballet.

The individual Rok battle is a long standing “contest” between Ohio fliers who regularly square off against each other, passing “champion” honors around throughout the season. Somehow, in the first heat Harry Gregory got his kite tangled with all six other contestants kites. All seven kites did the most spectacular “flying spiral” wrapping and twisting among themselves for five minutes. The spectators applauded as if it was part of the show. Unfortunately, it took the contestants nearly 40 minutes to untangle.

Demonstrations for the festival included Pairs Dual line flying by Vicki and Dean Proudfoot as Sky Jesters, Quad demos by Mike Donley and Quad Pairs routines by SideShow, Al Hargus and Vicki Romanoff, and with the inclusion of Vern Balodis, SideShow became “The Flying Turtles” for Team Quad routines and thanks to the team of “Higher Power” for some supurb dual line demonstrations.

The CKF is designed to “educate” the Cleveland public about kiteflying and the largest crowds and most activity takes place at the “Info Tent” manned by O.S.E.K. officers. Kite Workshops, hosted by Bob Lockhart were filled to capacity for each session!

The evening festival party was located in an area Cleveland residents call the “Flats” About 1/2 block from “Flat Irons Restaurant” is the Cuyahoga River and we all got to watch a total of four Lake Freighters move down the river. (This is the equivalent of a two story 600 foot long building moving past the restaurants picture window!)

Festival compliments, and “a job well done” go out to Harry Gregory, Nancy Lockwood, Tom and Cheryl Kear, Betty and Frank Terepka, Bob and Elaine Lockhart, and Sara Cechner, and all the rest of the O.S.E.K. members that made the 2004 Cleveland Kite Festival a success!

Al Hargus

(photos by Robyne Gardner)

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Author:Al Hargus (RIP)

A leader and expert on all things kiting for over 20 years, Al Hargus III was regularly involved in all aspects of the community, he could often be found walking through the audience at various events, speaking with and educating the public while they were there, experiencing what kiting was all about... We lost him to the great unknown in December of 2006, he is dearly missed.

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