Yep, this one’s late… Couldn’t be helped, however. After nine days on the road, the last two of ‘em getting only 4-5 hours of sleep per night, I was just plain wiped out. So there comes a time when all I can envision is a bit of food, a hot shower, followed by my pillow. Please forgive me?
Furthermore, I’d dearly love to report our favorite “Sunday broke bright and clear” message, but that just wasn’t to be either, in spite of the relatively delightful day Saturday had been. Nope – back to the living in clouds all the way down to your socks – weather, with temps in the high 50s and low 60s. We DID have wind however, so Sunday wasn’t a total washout.
Now – for those who’ve never attended – Sunday at WSIKF is traditionally a “Wrap Up” day. The City of Long Beach has been busy throughout the night clearing the fields, returning them to their original state. Several of the attendees are already on the road home, having driven several hours, and in some cases days, to attend – so noticeable portions of kites in the air and banner-farms are missing. This was moderated somewhat by the Sport Kite competitions which continued on into Sunday this year, but the addition of the Sport Kiters didn’t entirely make up for those who were already on the road. So, Sunday was a time for demos and free-flies, and shaking hands, and hugs all around, and perhaps a few moments of shared conversation and some WSIKF remembrances among old – or new – friends…
Anyway, the first order of business when you sneak onto the flying field seconds before they close the access gate (which I did), is finding a place to park. It turned out to be a non-problem, however… I simply kept on going down the line until the cars ran out and took my place at the water’s edge, and hoped the tide wouldn’t swallow the kite-van. I guess I got lucky, because it was still there – and dry – when the day ended.
Once there, I immediately ran into Ben D’Antonio from Revolution Kites, again ready to take on all comers for Rev questions, or lessons, or Rev tuning advice. Handshakes and HUGS ensued, of course. Meeting Ben has been one of the true delights of this WSIKF for me – so friendly and so supportive of anything at all having to do with kiting… Plus, an especially nice guy to boot!
Through the mist and fog, out on the main flying field, Larry Ziler is just beginning the “Memorial Fly” for kiters who have passed on within the last year. I moved closer to the field in order to view the ceremonies and feel a part of them. I had no white kite to add to the fly, but there were 12-15 kites up in the 4-5 MPH breeze, and I was content just to stand and to pay my respects. Those who have passed within the last year included several people I knew, including a couple that I counted as good kiting friends. I would pay my respects again – on the field this time, which is most fitting… Larry did a masterful job with the memorial ceremony, striking just the right tone. I will include the entire text of his memorial at the end of this last Update.
Well, shucks… I stood for a while and watched the “Memorial” kites fly and listened to the music from the PA system for a few moments – until I realized that I’d come all this way into my day without even the first cup of coffee. I’ll normally kill anyone who stood between my bed and the coffee pot – or has the audacity to actually speak to me – first thing in the morning, so it was time to do something about this! I made my shaky way to the Espresso stand to acquire “the juice of life,” and was just into my first cup when David Gomberg strolls by, bundled up to resemble the Michelin Man to stave off the cold (upper 50s) and damp (fog and mist). His first comment was something to the effect that, “We’ve gotta get the organizers to schedule this event in the SUMMER next year.” Smiles all around of course.
Then David asks to borrow a pen, and reaches into his wallet for a business card to write on… I loan him the pen, but am more than a little mystified. David writes for a moment, and then hands pen and card to me. On the back are three words: CHEN ZHAO JI And I immediately understand. My last update had included the names of the two Kiting Hall Of Fame inductees for this year. I had Don Tabor’s name spelled correctly in the update, but also knew that I did NOT spell the other name properly – and so stated in the update. Mr. Gomberg was simply filling in the missing information… Thank you, Mr. President. It’s really nice to know that someone actually reads these updates!
So, I head back towards the flying field with the caffeine beginning to work it’s lovely magic, and I reached a nice “decision.” Since today was really a wrap-up, and since we had mist and fog prevalent again, I would NOT carry my camera today… I would simply do my own part to savor and enjoy this laid-back day like any other attendee. Indeed, we’d been “at it” for nine straight days now anyway, so maybe I even deserved a day off, eh? In any case, while you will see some photos interspersed throughout this update – they are NOT photos taken on Sunday, but actually shots on prior WSIKF days, Believe me, there was nothing new flown on that Sunday anyway, so you aren’t missing a thing…
I decide to check in with the “mob” down at the iQuad corral again (being roommates of mine and all) and see how they were doing. On my way there I manage to get waylaid by Ronda Brewer and Barry “Bazzer” Poulter. That was fine with me. I’d agreed to purchase a couple of kites from Bazzer a couple of days before and we spent a few moments working out our “arrangements.” Indeed – it turned out to be very easy. Bazzer handed me the kites which I promptly stowed in the car, and I would mail him a check when I returned home to Portland. Ronda, being Bazzer’s self-appointed “groupie,” documented the transaction with her camera.
I did, however, eventually make it to iQuad – only to find the “camp” pretty much deserted. Turns out, nearly all the fliers were competing in (or observing) the Sport Kite comps.
A short time later , Bob Wendt (one of the two marvelous WSIKF announcers, along with the equally intrepid Robin Hass) announced the Ray Bethell had agreed to demo on the main field shortly, to be followed by Team Cutting Edge, the current World Sport Kite Team champions. Ray Bethell, if you’ve not been aware (can that BE?), is one of those kiting legends or “icons” in this sport. Ray is up in his 80s now, and still creates his special magic at any event he attends – being the first guy on the beach in the morning and the last one to leave most evenings. Moreover, Ray continues to “wow” festival attendees the world over, and has been doing so at WSIKF for so long that he has his own special flying area assigned at WSIKF, and has won the festival’s “People’s Choice” so often in the past that he’s now disqualified from winning it – it’s now called the “Ray Bethell People’s Choice Award.”
So Ray took to the field with his three kites, and did it again. As is so usual that it’s almost commonplace now – he mesmerized the entire crowd for 5 minutes of flying, followed by an equally long round of special “Ray Applause” consisting of hand-waving by the crowd (Ray cannot hear normal applause – being totally deaf). An amazing man, and an incredible performance – as usual! “GOOD STUFF,” Ray! And a profound, Thank You, Sir!
I happened to be standing near Team Cutting Edge as they got ready to follow Ray’s performance, so I quipped to Cutting Edge, “Well, looks like Ray’s done it again… Time for the ‘Second Team” to take to the field.” The laughed heartily – knowing full well of Ray’s performance skills, yet also having all the self-confidence in the world. At this point, there’s pretty much nothing left for Cutting Edge to prove to anyone anywhere, having won Worlds the last two times running!
So Team Cutting Edge took to the field in somewhat less than perfect conditions, and flew as masterful a routine as I think I’ve ever seen them fly. I’m sure the team-members (Jim Barber, Rick Wolcott, and Jerry Cannon) could probably find some faults in the flight that made it less than perfect, but I sure didn’t notice it. Tremendous job, guys! We love you to death!
Okay, time for a delight I’d been putting off for the entire festival. I needed to corral Evonne Miller, the WSIKF Field Director, and take her to lunch. I’d spent some portion of most days doing bits and dabs of work for her, kind of my way of “paying back” for all that festivals like WSIKF give to those of us who have the special privilege to attend these things fairly constantly. So it’s been my good luck to get to know Evonne a bit, and it was perhaps time for us to share a congenial meal and just unwind a bit. No – nothing like a ‘date,” but something more than our normal, casual chatter while WSIKF constantly interrupted… So we actually left the beach and had a nice, quiet lunch at a local restaurant. By the time we returned, the “exodus” was underway, and it was time to say my “goodbyes” to all an sundry who’d touched me during the week. I wandered and hand-shook and hugged, and finally connected with iQuad (and John Barresi in particular), and we headed home to Portland…
I’ll turn the remainder of this update over to John now (We’ll allow that since he IS Kitelife’s Editor and Publisher), but I will include here – as promised – the list of names (Alphabetically, by last name) followed by the text of Larry Ziler’s stirring Memorial dedication.
Bill “Pa” Burley
Al Hargus III
Sylvester “Sy” Polzin
“A Kite Flier” is a unique individual who comes from many walks of earthly life.
If a person is known as a kite flier and is of this society, he or she is looked upon as serendipitous, a thinker, a nature lover, a dreamer, and a true brother of the wind.
On day in each kite flier’s life, we will all pass on. Therefore, a right-of-passing and grace-of-ceremony are only fitting.
For, and in memory of our fliers who have passed, a White Kite has been fashioned to be launched in their honor. It is crafted of white cloth to signify the purity of passing, two crossed sticks to signify strength and bond among us, and tethered to the earth by frail kite line to signify a short existence on earth.
Our beloved friends and fliers will no longer be able to join us at kite gatherings, so family, friends, and fellow kite fliers have gathered here in Long Beach, Washington in their honor.
They kept hold of tethered kites made of materials of this earth. With their backs placed to the wind and eyes facing upwards to the sky, they kept a harness on the wind and a link to their creator.
IN tradition and tribute to our departed friends and kite fliers, we launch a White Kite and cut it free from this world to drift into the next. In doing this, we symbolize entrustment of our departed friends to their creator, and we release them from this earth.
– In Prayer–
You are the spirit of departed kite fliers. You were “Tako Kichi,” the true kite maniacs.
May this kite drift as long as needed, to soar with the birds and dance with the winds. May it find a new home in the hands of a new flier, and take on the colors of a dancing rainbow, and thus bring back to us another, to behold fresh paint for the sky and the joy of companionship in kite flying.
Our deep gratitude also goes out to everyone who participated in the iQuad mega team at one time or another throughout the week… These people helped make it possible to put on one heck of a show, helping to make this one of the best WSIKF events we’ve seen over the last few years:
Steve de Rooy*
* = official iQuad members blue = Kitelife Subscribers
They may not have reached the 25 fliers we’d hoped for at the same time (topped out at 17), but did had enough to accomplish the main goals they had in mind… Not the least of which was spelling “25” in the sky for this festival’s 25th anniversary.
Until next time!
Daily updates by:
Dave “Geezer” Shattuck