Issue 2 (May 1998): Little Acorns Kite Festival

A report from the North…

That’s right, from the North. Despite spending 3 full days on Miami Beach (April 17-19), all I really managed to see up close was the North half of this festival now in its third year. The Little Acorns Kite Festival covers 10 blocks of South Beach right in the middle of the famous Art Deco district. To walk the festival from end to end is quite a hike and in addition to the multitude of kites along the way, the local fauna of South Beach provide quite a few distractions.

Mother Nature smiled on Little Acorns this year and provided three carbon copy days of beautiful festival weather. Each day was sunny with high temperatures in the low 80’s and a steady SE wind coming directly off the ocean at 15-20+mph in the early morning and tapering off to 12-15mph in the afternoon.

I arrived on South Beach on Friday at around 8:00AM. After checking into my hotel, my immediate task at hand was setting up the Little Acorns WebCam which broadcast the festival on the Internet. I didn’t get the chance to survey the camera site in advance and had only given the requirement for an electrical outlet, a phone connection and a good view of the festival. Fortunately, the World Famous Clevelander Hotel was well prepared and provided everything needed on their rooftop. After getting the camera rolling and breathing a heavy sigh of relief, it was time to go have some fun. (You can review all of the WebCam pictures on the Little Acorns web pages.)

From the rooftop, I spotted fellow Kite Aerial Photographer, Craig Wilson already in action with his camera jockeying for position over the House of Versace. By the time I got off the roof and caught up, Craig had already shot several rolls of film. I’m sure he could easily fill the next several issues of the Aerial Eye with all the material he shot. After a quick check on the WebCam, I broke out my own KAP gear to shoot a roll. After another check on the WebCam (which I did throughout the weekend) it was time to head over to the buggy field where Dean Jordan & Jeff Howard were setting up for a day of buggy rides. Dean & Jeff gave countless rides to kids at the festival all weekend long and Dave Town did the same on the other buggy field further south on the beach. There was no shortage of kids looking for a buggy ride since Friday was field trip day at the festival. Over 2500 kids came to the beach on Friday. They brought a **wide** variety of kites they had made as school projects in Science, Mathematics and Art. Those that didn’t bring a kite had the chance to make their own at the Kite Academy. Needless to say, the sky was filled.

When you have Sven Weidhase & Andreas Schmeelke from Germany, you don’t need an army of kids and their kites to fill the sky. This dynamic duo are a festival themselves. Their giant bols, kicking legs, octopus, genie, Bert, Ernie and too many other kites to mention filled the northen end of the beach. To the South, England’s Anne Harris filled her own section of the beach, Jurassic Place, with a variety of her wind filled dinosaurs, kangaroos and other assorted animals.

On Saturday morning, I had one mission on my mind – to buggy South Beach with my new Quadrifoil C1 before the crowds arrived and confined the buggiers back in their designated area of the beach. To put it simply, mission accomplished. The early bird gets the beach and we (myself, Jeff Howard, Claxton & Kenny from Tampa) had a blast buggying Saturday & Sunday morning. Dean doesn’t appear to be quite the morning person when he’s been loose on South Beach the night before. Saturday afternoon, Jeff Howard spotted my Rev 1.5 and took a break from buggying. He proceeded to roam the festival and entertain & play with the crowd for a good 2+ hours. Between “shadowing” behind unsuspecting spectators walking the beach, displaying pinpoint precision on outstretched hands and hats, and knocking on the roof of the portolet every few occupants, Jeff put on quite a show. As if that wasn’t enough, he also yanked & caught the Rev out of the sky and then smoothly threw it out for a relaunch over & over, even on my 40′ lines. I’ve got a lot of Rev practicing to do.

Who knows where the time all went, the festival went by so fast. I never did make it down to the South end of the beach, but I didn’t need to thanks to the WebCam. Be sure to stop by the Little Acorns Kite Festival web page and at least check out the WebCam highlights. If you have the time, you can browse all of the WebCam images on the WebCam review page. The WebCam was a huge success and traffic on the site soared during the festival. We only had a few glitches when the phone line dropped unexpectedly 2 or 3 times and we got tons of great feedback from around the world. As far as I know, this was the first ever Kite Festival broadcast via a WebCam dedicated solely to a kite festival. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll have to try for live streaming video!

I know this article didn’t even begin to do the festival justice. Hopefully, others will pick up the slack and fill you in on all the other guest flyers (over 50), the banquet, the auction and maybe even the South end of the beach!

Bob Pebly