Cue the music:
“Let's go fly a kite,
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite, and send it soaring ... .”
No one who has watched “Mary Poppins” will ever forget the excitement experienced by Mr. and Mrs. Banks and their children as the skies over their neighborhood filled with scores of colorful kites soaring.
“... Up through the atmosphere,
up where the air is clear, … .”
On April 27, area residents can experience that same excitement as the LaGrange Communities Youth Centers (LCYC) partners with Head Over Heels LLC for the third annual Kite Komotion Clinic and Festival in Shipshewana.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a variety of vibrantly colored kites in an awesome array of shapes and sizes will fill the skies behind the Shipshewana Event Center and Hostetler Hudson Auto Museum.
“When kites soar, so do our spirits,” says Michelle Myers, program coordinator for LCYC. “And don't we all need a lift after such a long, cold winter?”
The free event features international kite teams performing amazing stunts and demonstrations to music, says Laurie Sherck of Head Over Heels, an outdoor outfitter's shop located in downtown Shipshewana. Stunt kite lessons, games, kite-making classes and candy drops for children are part of the fun.
Clark Shute, president of the Hoosier Kitefliers Society (HKS), which is participating in Kite Komotion, touts the benefits of flying kites.
“The primary benefit of kiting is how family-friendly it can be,” Shute explains. “A minimal investment or a small amount of family craft time can result in a full day of outdoor experience.
“Parents who are trying to extend family time have an excellent opportunity in an open park or field to enjoy a little time away, listening to a different kind of tweet,” he adds.
The non-profit HKS has approximately 100 members and is the only organized kite club in Indiana. Members have designed presentations, workshops and seminars used throughout the state.
Members Dick and Terri Claycomb of Hartford City have prepared 400 kite kits to be given to and assembled by children at Kite Komotion.
“Watching the kids build their own kites and then watching them fly is very rewarding for our group,” Shute says.
Scheduled performers at Kite Kommotion include the International Kite Teams of The Detroit Windjammers, the pairs team of Chicago Fire and Ice, and The Blues Brothers, says Sherck.
“Most of the kites that are flown in the team performances are dual line kites,” adds Jamie Breniser of Head Over Heels. “Some are stacked kites (like those of the Detroit Windjamers) flown in groups of two to six fliers. One famous kite flyer, Dave Bush, flies his dual line kite with a 14-foot wing span as it literally drags him across the ground!
“Kite Komotion will also have large 'eye candy' kites that decorate the sky,” Breniser notes, such as, “... teddy bears, large fish, an octopus.”
The Windjammers specialize in flying trains of 10 or more kites — an “eye-popping experience,” says Sherck. A demo field, a “Learn to Fly” field for tutoring in kite-flying techniques, and a family fly field are available. Candy drops take place at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.
Tom “The Bubbleman” Deck will appear with his bubble machine, and the grounds will be decorated with wind toys, banners and windsocks donated by the kite teams. Restrooms and drinking fountains will be available, and local vendors and concessions will set up during the event. All safety precautions will be overseen by Shute and the HKS.
Grants provided from the LaGrange County Visitors Bureau and support from both private and corporate donors have enabled Kite Komotion to expand while remaining free and open to the public.
“The community has been very willing to contribute funds to ensure the event will continue,” says LCYC's Myers. “It is a very positive, family-oriented opportunity for our county.”