St. John's College to offer high-flying fun Saturday

Hundreds expected at 2nd Great Kite Fly

April 15, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Go fly a kite! This time, that's not a put-down.

The Friends of St. John's are sponsoring the Great Kite Fly this weekend as a way to help the community get to know "that liberal arts school" where students study for oral debates and don't get grades.

If there's sunshine and a breeze over College Creek that's not too strong Saturday, expect to see hundreds of visitors trampling the greens at St. John's College, sending up their favorite flying devices.

"It's so that more people will come to St. John's and see the great things going on there," said Esther Slaff, chairwoman of the event.

During the first event last year, about 800 people visited the college's back campus for a few hours, and dozens of huge show pieces darted across the sky, said Kathy Dulisse, a community liaison with the college. About 200 of last year's visitors -- mostly children from local clubs -- had designed their own kites in a kite-building workshop.

This year, both sessions of the workshop are filled. An additional 200 children will build and paint six-sided sled kites. Workshop participants can color in designs with acrylic paints or markers and bind the pre-cut plastic pieces with wooden dowels. When they are finished, they'll pin colorful tails onto the kites.

"We attach the string and the kite is ready to fly," Dulisse said.

The skies will be open for flying from 12: 30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can watch enthusiasts from the Maryland Kite Society zing, twirl and float their sky masterpieces. Some of maneuvers are done to music, like a kite ballet, with up to a half-dozen kites soaring, spiraling and diving together.

"It's almost like watching the blue angels," said Adam Grow, executive secretary of the kiting organization.

The 30-year-old Maryland Kite Society stakes its claim as the nation's oldest kite club with about 150 members who take their kites seriously. Kite flying, like most other hobbies, has grown expensive and creative, and is sometimes a workout.

Some of the larger performance kites pull enough wind to lift a man from the ground. The world's largest kite, a $49,000 caterpillar-shaped beast, has to be anchored to a tractor-trailer to be flown. And in a stiff breeze, the kite will drag the truck down a road, Grow said.

Although kite shops still sell small, diamond-shaped "Eddie" kites for less than $10, those willing to invest in the hobby can pay more than $1,000 for meticulously designed, handmade kites that stretch 20 or 30 feet. Grow said the larger the kite, the easier it is to get it up in the air. And you don't have to run, dragging the kite along the ground. Just let out about 50 feet of string, make sure the wind is to your back and tug on it a little.

"It's something to have the kite dancing in the sky and pulling on the string," Grow said. "If you're holding that string, you can feel it pulling all the tension out of you."

Flying at the Great Kite Fly at St. John's College on Rowe Boulevard in Annapolis begins at noon, with half-hour sessions for children divided by age groups. The Maryland Kite Society will begin its displays at 12: 30 p.m. Visitors can bring a picnic lunch or buy food from vendors. Parking is available at the state parking lots on either side of Calvert Street.

Pub Date: 4/15/99

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