Blue skies, kite fest beckon

Outdoors: St. John's College held its annual Great Kite Fly yesterday, encouraging young and old to take to the fields.

April 20, 2003|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

The Great Kite Fly in Annapolis yesterday brought out the boy in 2-year-old Jaron Blunt and the girl in 72-year-old Joan Urbas.

Neither paid any attention to the scores of other kite-fliers on the green fields of St. John's College as they concentrated on the task at hand. For when it comes right down to it, kite-flying is an intensely individual sport.

St. John's College, a scholarly campus where 450 undergraduates read a "great books" curriculum that includes ancient Greek, philosophy and English poetry, holds the kite festival to bring the college and community together.

"I must be the oldest one here," Urbas said, laughing as she tried to hoist her red-, white-and- blue kite in the air a dozen times or more. Realizing her purse was a dead weight preventing her from getting a running start, she put it on the ground. But the Pasadena resident did not take off her ladylike loafers.

On her 20th try, the wind caught the kite. Urbas ran across a field with the kite aloft and turned around to enjoy the smiling stares of her adult sons, Shane and Eric, while the Beatles song "Good Day Sunshine" played from nearby speakers.

Looking at Jaron dart across the field with a sheer plastic kite just made in a workshop, Urbas said, "Two and 72, that's perfect."

The toddler was ready for his first time on the kite green. His mother, Darris Beans Blunt of Annapolis, said he prepared by watching his three older brothers.

Though his words were few and to the point -- "Kite!" Jaron exclaimed -- he seemed to know intuitively how to run with the wind and hold the string, letting out a little at a time. It's an art Charlie Brown never mastered, but Jaron got the hang of keeping the kite sky-high after just a few starts.

The grin on the 2-year- old's face matched Urbas' exhilaration.

Esther Slaff, co-chairwoman of the volunteer Friends of St. John's College, a sponsoring group of the annual event on the banks of College Creek, estimated that more than 200 kites were made in the morning workshop yesterday. "It's low-key, no great pressure. Just a little sunshine and a little wind is all we need," she said.

As the windy morning turned into a blue-sky afternoon, Ralph Reeder, a Friends of St. John's College member, stood sentry at the outdoor kite hospital. "We've had a lot of patients with tangled strings," he said.

"It's fun to come out and watch the children," said Christopher B. Nelson, the college president.

But some St. John's students were there, too, to get a breath of spring. Several college freshmen helped in the children's kite-making workshop by tying up balloons, and others decided to decorate and fly their own kites.

At the workshop, Erin Callahan, a freshman from Falls Church, Va., scrawled the ancient Greek letters spelling "Truth" on her kite design. "I'm taking a relaxing break from reading Aristotle," she said.

Her friend, freshman Rachel Gillis of upstate New York, followed suit and wrote the ancient Greek letters for "Beautiful and Good" on her kite.

Across the room, Hailey Ensor, 6, did not have Greek in mind when she wrote "Very Funny" on her kite. She also drew a chicken and a greenhouse full of flowers.

Warming up for Easter, she, like so many girls yesterday, chose pink plastic for her kite. "It's my favorite color," she said.

It was a big day out for Hailey and her father, Richard Ensor of Arnold.

"We get to fly kites and go to McDonald's," Hailey explained as she readied her design for flight.

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