Kite Flying

It’s time for the annual Kite Flying Festival again. This April 14 at 11 a.m. the Greenwich Arts Council and the Town of Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation, in partnership once again with the educational toy store Smart Kids’ and McDonalds. A longtime Greenwich tradition, participants are encouraged to bring kites of all shapes and sizes, made of paper, plastic or fabric. Each flyer will receive a certificate to McDonalds and will be eligible for a drawing for a gift certificate from Smart Kids’ Toys. The location is the beach at Greenwich Point. For further information call the Greenwich Arts Council’s office at 203-862-6750, or log onto Greenwicharts.org, or call the Department of Parks and Recreation at 203-622-6485.

This event is geared primarily for children and yet, historically kites have inspired adults to make significant discoveries. Perhaps these colorful pieces of fabric floating in the sky, defying gravity, awaken the childlike imagination latent in all of us!

The earliest written account of kite flying occurred in approximately 200 B.C. when a Chinese General flew a kite over the walls of a city he was attacking to measure how far his army would have to tunnel to reach past the defenses. Knowing this distance his troops reached the inside of the city, surprised their enemy, and were victorious.

During the Silla Dynasty of Korea around the year 600, General Gim Yu-sin was ordered to subdue a revolt. However, his troops refused to fight. They had seen a large shooting star fall from the sky and believed it to be a bad omen. To regain control, the General used a large kite to carry a fire ball into the sky. The soldiers, seeing the star return to heaven, rallied and defeated the rebels.

The earliest evidence of Indian kite flying comes from miniature paintings from the Mogul Period around 1500. A favorite theme was of a young man skillfully using his kite to drop messages to a lover who was being held in strict seclusion from him and the rest of the world.

Marco Polo carried stories of kites to Europe around the end of the 13th century. Illustrations of the period show non-flying dragon kites on military banners. Men like Benjamin Franklin used kite flying to learn more about the wind and weather. Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright Brothers all experimented with kites and contributed to development of the airplane.

I hope the weather will be beautiful this year for the Greenwich Kite Flying Festival! It’s an opportunity to marvel at the great expanse of sky while reflecting on the story every kite tells… These small pieces of material moving gracefully in the wind, flying against the odds and propelling man’s imagination to heights it had dared not reach for before: such is the captivating effect that kites have had on the human psyche. Over the course of history these dainty little flying objects have had a strong effect on the human imagination…encouraging us to always reach for the stars!

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