Issue 68: Dave’s World – Rockaway Kite Festival

After flying all night to New York, my first thought as I got off the plane at JFK was that it was wet. Wet and windy. The plane had bounced and shuddered all the way thorough the approach. And back home on Oregon when I left, the weather had been perfect.

I was back in Rockaway for my first visit since 2006. The event is not huge but instead a comfortable gathering of fliers with room to fly and a small but appreciative crowd. Set up at Riis Park in Queens, the beach had easy parking nearby and a convenient walkway. Combined this year with an art and music festival, we expected better attendance. But that was before the drizzle.

The big kite fliers were on the beach early Saturday. The show included Jeff and Joyce King, Dennis Hawley, Jeff Burka, the Dallmer Family, Jerry McGuire, Paul Keeler, John Martin, Don Pignolet and Mike Petty, and Pete Dolphin.

I pulled out a brand new green Octopus for her maiden flight. Other Octos, a Devil, Caterpillars, Frogs, Crabs, Fugu, and a giant Duck inched into the sky. By Mid-day, we had a fine show in the sky. That’s when the rain came back.

Wet sandy kites make for ugly bag stuffing and heavy loads to carry off the beach. But the weather didn’t seem to dampen moods. We helped each other pack and then went back to the hotel by about four for warm showers and dry clothing.

Our overnight base, the Surfside Motel, has a somewhat infamous reputation. I’ll admit that the bullet-proof glass at check-in, and the posted hourly room rates can be off-putting. But overall, the place was quiet, clean and I didn’t see anything or anyone out of the ordinary. Maybe things have changed. Or maybe I just didn’t notice.

Saturday night, we all gathered for a fine meal hosted by the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce.

Sunday we were back on the beach early again. The skies were clear and the sun off the water sparkled. Big kites went into the sky. They lofted slowly as we worked to dry them and shake off the damp sand.

For a few hours the flying was super. Then the winds dropped off to nothing and the field looked kite a huge rainbow with loose bowels had wandered through.

After waiting and trying for two hours more, we began to pack again.

My flight back to Portland was at six in the morning. That meant a hotel departure at 3 a.m. And people wonder why I take naps when I can!

What I don’t understand is why you are supposed to get to the airport two hours early, when the check-in counter only opens 90 minutes before the flight….

The trip home gave me time to reflect. I was really pleased to be part of Rockaway this year. The wind and weather could have been better. But the people there were the best! I enjoyed their company and friendship. I enjoyed watching their skills on the field. I enjoyed being part of the program.

Big thanks to Beatrix Pelton and Sky Festivals for the invitation and for making the event possible.

I’m back home now and sleeping in my own bed for three nights. Then off to Marina Green in San Francisco. See you there!

David Gomberg