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Flying High - DC Kite Festival

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When I was a kid, I often flew kites in the open fields of historic Civil War battlegrounds in my hometown. Always an immediate thrill when the kite would take flight and start dancing in the sky. Since then I've been fascinated by objects in flight - kites, planes, hot air balloons, etc. Perhaps these childhood adventures were early indicators that I'd one day spend a lot of time in the sky, journeying from place to place, craving constant exploration in the same way a kite longs for the wind.

Over the weekend, DC held its annual kite festival as part of the month long Cherry Blossom Festival. I was pleased to check out this remarkable event, held on the grounds of the Washington Monument.

1. Although the origins of the kite aren't set in stone, it's believed they originated in China over 2,000 years ago. People come from all over America, and other parts of the world, to attend the annual festival in DC. This year we were very lucky to have amazing spring weather and great wind for the flyers. Every variation of kites was present, from basic kid kites to intricate home made creations. Lots of fish designs.

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3. The crowd was in constant amazement at the exhibitions, everyone looking up and not watching where they were walking. Actually it was a bit dangerous at times, with feet getting tangled in kite strings or kites quickly crashing down when the wind subsided. In the background here is the World War II Memorial, with its signature wreaths.

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4. Everyone in a festive mood.

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5. Some of the coolest and largest kites were part of an "aquarium" theme exhibition, which included a scuba diver, octopus and fish. It's really hard to convey the wonder of these kites in a photograph. However, it's a major undertaking to get such massive structures in flight and kites this large had many handlers.

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6. There also were some original designs with very vibrant colors, this one being one of my favorites.

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7. Aye aye, captain! Time to set sail. A lot of work to get some of these kites in the air, but of course much easier with the smaller ones.

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8. A big family with four kids struggled with this kite. I watched them for about fifteen minutes trying to get the kite in the air. When it finally launched, the kids went crazy. Immense joy and smiles. Very cool to see this bug flying at the top of the Monument, its two eyes directly adjacent to the Monument windows. :)

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9. It's sad so many adults lose their sense of wonder in the chaos of life, but in children this is a constant trait. They were the most entertaining participants in the crowd and many were trying to operate their own kites with the help of parents. This little girl was so sweet and precious, I just wanted to scoop her up and give her a big hug!

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10. My kite, always been tied to the peace sign and have it tattooed on my shoulder since university.

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11. Many of the kite operators would let children take the strings at various times.

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12. Pictured below is the official Cherry Blossom kite, a looped design with the signature blossoms engraved on each section. To provide some background, the cherry blossom trees were given to DC by the Mayor of Tokyo in 1912 to enhance the growing relationship between Japan and the U.S. The Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year to celebrate the arrival of spring, drawing millions of tourists from all over America and the world. The Festival lasts several weeks, with various cultural events, parades and food festivals. The trees are not yet in full bloom, but they are expected to peak next week. If there is interest, I can go early one morning to photograph the trees before the crowds arrive. They sit along the Tidal Basin, near the Jefferson Memorial.

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13. Local kite club.

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14. Kite club from New Jersey with colorful flags.

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15. This kite was my favorite. It wasn't the most intricate, but I really liked the design and got to speak with the owner for awhile. His name is Samir, pictured beside the kite here. He immigrated to America from India about 15 years ago and has been flying kites since childhood. He ventured into professional kite flying when he became inspired by his uncle who flies back in India. Both Samir and his uncle belong to kite clubs in America and India, respectively, and represent their countries at various competitions. They collaborate to create the designs, purchase the fabric and then a tailor completes the job by stitching the masterpiece together.

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16. These men drew quite the crowd, with their intricate design consisting of fans inside the circular components of the kite. My second favorite kite.

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17. Great concentration amongst the professional and amateur kite flyers.

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19. Common sense on how to stay safe at such an event, but in case you have none organizers happily tell you how to avoid injury.

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20. Beautiful stars and stripes! In America, you will see flags EVERYWHERE. Government buildings, police stations, gas stations, private homes. I remember noticing the absence of flags in Russia. I think someone told me it's against the law for citizens to fly the Russian flag at their homes but maybe I'm mistaken. Completely foreign concept to Americans, and I have no idea why such a law would exist. Maybe all you natives can explain, especially the patriots who show such great love for the motherland.

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21. More kites...

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22. In motion...Notice the scaffolding on the Washington Monument? It began a few weeks ago and will soon reach the top as repairs are being made from a freak earthquake we had in 2011. So sorry for all the tourists coming to DC this summer, as the scaffolding is a major eye sore in a very lovely part of the city. I stare at it every night from my apartment window.

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23. Some of the people in the crowd also very decorative! I love the design on this woman's headscarf.

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24. Woman in the crowd, quite beautiful (at least to me).

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25. Happy couple enjoying a nice picnic and scenery. This is a perfect date to me, sitting on the lawn, eating and watching kites on a beautiful afternoon. Very nice people. I spoke to them for awhile and discovered they are recent newlyweds.  Btw, the doughnuts in the box - Krispy Kreme - are delicious! If you come to America be sure to try them.

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Last week I was very tired, run down and a bit frustrated. So it was nice to get out, enjoy the spring weather and relive childhood memories of running through fields. Now I have to find someone to take a hot air balloon ride with me! Friends and family are too scared. Who wants to come to America and join me? :)

For more on my love of flight, you can read my very first LJ post. Back when I had one subscriber, my great friend zavkafedroi, who inspired me many years ago to start traveling and writing again. http://peacetraveler22.livejournal.com/3696.html

Comments

( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
anna_potapov
Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:43 am (UTC)
it is just an amazing show :) so many happy people!:))
peacetraveler22
Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:00 pm (UTC)
Hi Anna! Do you read blogger Ilya Varlamov? He just wrote a post about your hometown a few days ago. See http://zyalt.livejournal.com/750682.html. I guess it's okay when a native Russian points out bad things about the country, but when an American like me does it everyone attacks.
(no subject) - anna_potapov - Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
togliatt
Apr. 2nd, 2013 04:30 am (UTC)
What I like in americans - they know how to make a show. I like watch boxing, MMA, NHL, american football....even boring baseball. During the Roman Empire it was clear, that people need bread and circuses
Did you see something in Russia? I am not((( Only now beginning to understand this and make a show. but more for the money, not for free. this is Russian business)))

7 - amazing kite
24 - terrorist, no?)))
peacetraveler22
Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:03 pm (UTC)
Terrorist? :)) Baseball season just started yesterday and I agree it's the most boring sport! But it's fun to watch the games at the stadium. My favorite sport is football, but I have to wait until September for it to return. There is a saying in America "go big or go home." We like to make a spectacle of everything - parades, sporting events, festivals...
(no subject) - togliatt - Apr. 3rd, 2013 06:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 3rd, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - togliatt - Apr. 3rd, 2013 01:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
dodger_37
Apr. 2nd, 2013 04:50 am (UTC)
Flags we didn't hang why it... and if you hang a flag on public holidays, you can easily it wrong hang, just like here...
the white stripe should be at the top

peacetraveler22
Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:05 pm (UTC)
I know the white stripe belongs at the top. :) I'm sorry, but this is pure stupidity for a native to hang the flag upside down.
(no subject) - dodger_37 - Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
habarforever
Apr. 2nd, 2013 05:16 am (UTC)
Kite
Неу, Thanks for realy positive post you wrote. Pictures are fine too. My kids and like too spend our spare time this way. I live in Moscow right instead of the park. Every weekend trying to have some fun. In winter we celebrate the Pancake week/ Нот tea for kids, cold boose for dad good.
And by the way, if you get lost in the place without cell signal you can send SMS. Write it, push sell, and fly the cellphone with the kite, when it fly high the SMS will go.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Kite
You're welcome! I'm not very good at taking pictures yet, still learning. Booze for dad? :) What do you drink?
Re: Kite - habarforever - Apr. 3rd, 2013 05:02 am (UTC) - Expand
cherez_dorogu
Apr. 2nd, 2013 06:01 am (UTC)
Last year my camera battery went low while that festival. So many kites - and only few photos...
Thank you for the sunny post!
peacetraveler22
Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:07 pm (UTC)
You went to this festival in DC??
(no subject) - cherez_dorogu - Apr. 2nd, 2013 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
iiiko
Apr. 2nd, 2013 09:17 am (UTC)
We would, in Russia, would have long since dispersed these people. I can not imagine that the people gathered outside the Kremlin, Putin is running, and built to such an event. All participants have dispersed. Because the State Duma adopted the stupidest law "On meetings"
Very nice post!
peacetraveler22
Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks! These big gatherings are common in America. For instance, the President and his family host a huge Easter egg hunt for children on the White House grounds.
(no subject) - iiiko - Apr. 2nd, 2013 05:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
soloviov
Apr. 2nd, 2013 12:55 pm (UTC)
I am devastated by seeing the scale of the event. This is what I miss so much living in the UK: nothing is that big here! Having come from Russia I am used to big.. everything: streets, buildings, distances, fields, you name it. I once went to a hot air ballooning festival in Bristol. I admit, it was quite cool to watch 80 balloons rising in the sky over an hour. But how cooler would that have been if they had an opportunity to rise at the same time! Sadly, this can never happen on more than modest british fields. So, thanks for the pics, it's a pleasure to have an opportunity to have a peek.

As of the absence of flags in Russia, I think it came out of style after the USSR fell apart. Before 1991 you could see the flags everywhere too. It was encouraged and recognised by ordinary folk. However after the country vanished people got confused about what is the real flag and how it looks. The new concepts have never been properly embedded into people's minds, I feel. I personally do not feel any connection to the new state symbols of Russia. I will recognise them in the crowd. This is pretty much how far my connection goes.
But that's just me and my personal opinion.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:11 pm (UTC)
In Russia and America we have large open spaces, so it's much easier. Every year there's a huge international hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This year it comes at the beginning of October, maybe I'll try to go. See http://www.balloonfiesta.com/.
atlantis555
Apr. 2nd, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC)
>And Samsung is probably the only other company that can throw a product introduction and have people line up around a city block

What does 'throw' mean here? Thanks.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 2nd, 2013 03:12 pm (UTC)
Hi, in this context "throw" means to hold an event. It's a common American phrase, "to throw a party."
lev_kuzminsky
Apr. 2nd, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
What a beautiful event!
And what a pity I live too far away...
But next weekend we have an April Fools Parade! ;)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 2nd, 2013 07:04 pm (UTC)
You're in Michigan, correct? Which city? I frequently travel to Detroit and Bloomfield Hills for work.
(no subject) - lev_kuzminsky - Apr. 2nd, 2013 07:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 2nd, 2013 07:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
moonrainbow
Apr. 2nd, 2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
Very impressive!

I actually looked up for a similar event in Russia, and I can confirm that it happens in Moscow yearly, even though I have never been there. Moscow is in fact quite a cool place to live, even though your first impressions are that it is horrible. I do think you should visit it in a warm season (May to September). So many things change when you are under the blue skies and surrounded by plenty of green leaves. People even start to dress colorfully and smile (never as much as Americans, but much more than in winter time).

I think you'd be under pressure if you hang out a Russian flag in Russia. Not only the state believes it is solely its right to hang the flag out, but also people would think you are ridiculous. Are you probably a patriot? No, seriously? A good excuse for this behavior is a military service, best in a 'hot spot'.
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2013 01:28 pm (UTC)
I don't think the warm season will change my impression, it's the pace of life there I don't like. But I'm sure people are more cheerful in summer. For me, it's the opposite. I get gloomy and irritable during summer because I love cold and cannot handle the heat.

"people would think you are ridiculous. Are you probably a patriot? No, seriously." There are lots of patriots and many made their way into my original Russian post. :)) One of them messages me on an almost daily basis. Sometimes with interesting questions/discussions and sometimes completely crazy! But always entertaining. :) I don't even remember seeing the Russian flag hanging outside the Duma.

If you visit the kite festival in Moscow please send me photos.
(no subject) - moonrainbow - Apr. 3rd, 2013 02:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moonrainbow - Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 3rd, 2013 09:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
peacetraveler22
Apr. 3rd, 2013 08:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks, you are always providing very thorough explanations. Of course the Soviet flag with the hammer and sickle is very iconic. I even purchased one during my trip and have it on my bookcase. :) There's a new television show called "The Americans" that's about Russian spies in DC during the Cold War. They have a cool logo, you can Google it. Every time I try to enter an image in comments it never works. In the logo, the "C" in the word Americans is the hammer and sickle.




Edited at 2013-04-03 08:42 pm (UTC)
rider3099
Apr. 4th, 2013 11:32 pm (UTC)
Really great event and very nice photos!
peacetraveler22
Apr. 5th, 2013 01:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
anna_sollanna
Jul. 25th, 2013 02:39 pm (UTC)
Never seen so many beautiful and intricate kites before! They are not so widespread in Russia. But sometimes I see very simple kites are sold on road shoulders of our highways. :))) Btw have you already tried a hot air balloon ride? I have never ridden it, but my husband flew on such a balloon last year. He said it had been very impressive, though there had been almost no wind at all and it had been rather difficult for the pilot to rule this balloon.
peacetraveler22
Jul. 25th, 2013 03:12 pm (UTC)
No, I've never been in a hot air balloon but want to try it. Maybe in autumn, and the adventure will make a fabulous story for my blog. :) These kites are really amazing, true pieces of art and great skill to get some of them in flight.
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )

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