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Lackluster wind doesn’t deter kite enthusiasts at One Sky, One World event

Sunday, October 10, 2010 | 7:07 p.m. CDT; updated 10:17 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 11, 2010
Parker Houan reacts to the kites in the sky for One Sky, One World Kite Flying Day on Saturday at Cosmo-Bethel Park.

COLUMBIA — There wasn’t much wind at Cosmo-Bethel Park on Sunday, but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from trying to fly their kites.

One Sky, One World Kite Flying Day, an international event that encourages communities to celebrate world peace, ushered in its fifth year in Columbia on Sunday. Sponsored by Columbia Parks and Recreation, this year's event featured Qian Jianguo, a kite master from the Weifang Kite Musuem in China. He showcased his handmade eagle kite by soaring it high above the field with little wind.

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Over the past week, Qian visited several area schools, demonstrating his indoor kite-flying skills. He held a workshop Saturday for 40 people at the Columbia Art League to demonstrate how to make bamboo frame kites.

Speaking through a translator, Qian explained how to heat and bend the bamboo to the desired shape. He emphasized patience and the need for research on kite designs.

Kelly Massman, an English as a second language tutor in Jefferson City, brought two of her Chinese students to watch the workshop.

“This is a pretty big deal for them to come," she said. "This is kind of neat for them to see Chinese culture in Columbia.”

Participants in the workshop were then able to finish their kites so they could fly them Sunday.

Audra Jenkins and her family attempted to fly a kite but were having difficulty because of the lack of wind. Her son Braeden managed to pull the kite into the air for a few seconds only to have it fall back to the ground.

“This is our first time flying a kite," she said. "We’re not masters.”

This was a common occurrence around the park, with many people having trouble getting their kites into the air.

“It’s pretty light right now. Most of the kites won’t fly today,” Andrew McAllister, another kite flier, said. “You need bigger but lighter kites to fly today. The more surface area, the better it’ll fly on a day like this.”

McAllister and his daughter were having trouble getting their kite off the ground, too, but for a different reason: They broke their kite the last time they flew it.

“This (kite) is so strong it will lift you off the ground on a windy day," he said. "But that’s assuming we can get it off the ground.”

Columbia’s One Sky, One World event also functions as a get-together for kite clubs around Missouri. Kite club members from Kansas City, St. Louis and Jefferson City helped restart Columbia's kite festival five years ago, and many decorated the field Sunday with colorful banners and animal-themed ground displays.  

Randy Larkey, who has been a member of the Kansas City Kite Club for 14 years, said he and his wife got into flying because of their son.

“He wanted a kite, and we accidentally stumbled onto a kite festival after we bought the kite,” Larkey said.

Larkey brought a 60-square-foot flow form kite to fly but couldn’t because it was simply too big to fly without enough wind.

“We’ve had a couple of years where it’s real windy and a couple of years like this,” Larkey said. “(The flow form is) not a great big kite, but it’s not a little kite, either.”

Joanna Zhou, a workshop participant, brought her kite to the event but also had trouble getting it to stay in the air.

“In China, it’s wildly popular. When I was a kid, we’d often make it ourselves,” Zhou said. “Maybe I’ll go home and make one (with) some paper — (it’s) very simple.”


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