It's A Bird, It's A Plane...it's A Kite!

UP FRONT

Recreation: Kite-flying Championship Scheduled In Ocean City This Weekend As What Was Once A Hobby Becomes Serious Sport.

April 24, 1997|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,SUN STAFF

Jim Cosca decided to ditch hang-gliding. Although he enjoyed it, staying on the ground was more to his liking. Yet, he didn't quite want to give up soaring up yonder in the clear, blue sky. So he found a solution. His kite soars overhead while he remains on terra firma.

"I got started kite-flying while on a vacation down in Nags Head [N.C.]," Cosca says. "I started out hang-gliding and I did that about 15 times, but it was much too expensive and also too dangerous. I decided to keep my feet on the ground."

That was in 1987, and Cosca, 37, has been a kite-flying aficionado ever since. The Fort Washington resident is a member of the Maryland Kite Society and president of the Wings Over Washington Kite Club.

Cosca, who works as an engraver, will be among those taking part in the Maryland International Kite Festival, which includes the 8th Annual Mid-Atlantic Stunt Kite Championships, this weekend. The festival will be on the Boardwalk at Ocean City, beginning at 4th Street.

"Kite flying is very relaxing. It's a form of stress relief," Cosca says. "It's fun and it's also exercise."

Veterinarian Adam Grow, who is executive secretary of the Maryland Kite Society, also discovered the joys of kite-flying while on vacation.

"We were vacationing in Washington and it was too cold to go swimming," he says. "So we bought kites." And then he was hooked, says Grow, who has been flying kites for about five years now.

"I also enjoy building kites . . . the construction and design," Grow says.

Kites are more than simple airborne pieces of cloth attached to a string. People fly kites created in the likenesses of animals, people, geometric designs, cartoon characters and nearly anything else the mind can think of.

Building a kite starts with a concept, a design that is sketched on paper before it is transferred to a grid, Grow says. The same fabric used for the cloths in sailboats, rip-stock nylon, is used for making kites, he explains.

And if you think the actual flying of a kite can't be creative, then you haven't been to any kite festivals lately.

"People stand shoulder to shoulder and synchronize maneuvers to music," says Costa, explaining some kite-flying techniques.

Kite-flying, like nearly every hobby, is big business. Peruse Kite Lines magazine, which is published in Maryland and sold at kite stores, and you will see ads for stunt kites; single-, double-line kites or more.

However, if your interest is simply getting outside with one kite, there are some popular local areas where you might find other kite fans.

Grow ticked off some local kite-flying areas: Gunpowder Falls State Park in Baltimore County, Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis and Glenwood Park in Howard County. There are about 150 members in the Maryland Kite Society, Grow says. And the group is always on the lookout for good places to fly kites.

However, the Ocean City kite festival will be the place to see the masters at work, says Bill Ochse, president of the Maryland International Kite Festival and owner of the Kite Loft in Ocean City.

"The sky will be loaded with very dramatic, glorious, grandiose types of kites," Ochse says. The festival will take up more than a dozen city blocks and will include three sound stages. There will be mass ascensions and traditional Japanese Rokkaku battle kites. The latter are kites that do "battle" in the sky.

Kite manufacturers and professional fliers will offer free sport kite lessons, and kites by artists will be displayed on the ground and in the air, he says.

Indeed, professionals are flying in from places like California, Colorado, Wales and France to take to the skies of Ocean City for the Maryland International Kite Festival.

THE FACTS

What: Maryland International Kite Festival featuring the 8th Annual Mid-Atlantic Stunt Kite Championships

When: April 25-27 (The actual competition takes place on Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Ocean City Boardwalk at 4th Street

Call: 410-289-7855 or 215-736-3715

A season of activities in Ocean City

The kite festival is just a prelude to Ocean City's season of warm weather activities. Here are just some events scheduled through the summer:

May 1-4:

Springfest, Inlet parking lot and beach, at the south end of the boardwalk. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. The festival of music and arts on the beach celebrates the impending arrival of the summer season. Entertainment, children's activities, crafts. In conjunction, a free boat show will be held 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily at Shantytown in West Ocean City. Most events are free, but there is a charge for evening concerts featuring such acts as the Commodores, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, B.J. Thomas, Inner Circle and the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet. Call 410-250-0125 or 800-OC-OCEAN (800-626-2326).

May 10:

White Marlin Parade and Festival, North Division Street. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Parade starts at noon and runs from 15th Street to the Inlet. Arts, crafts, demonstrations and exhibits. Call 410-289-1413.

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