April 6, 2014

Kite Festival glides through Livingston

The event draws hundreds of people, some with unusual and colorful kites.

Dozens of kites filled the sky above Livingston Middle School for much of the day Sunday during the third annual Livingston Kite Festival.

Several members of the Bravo family of Merced took turns flying a dragon-shaped kite, their necks craned upward. Juan Bravo stood near his brother and nephew as they tried to get their kite airborne.

“It’s nice out,” the 31-year-old said. “There’s a greater turnout than I (expected).”

The school’s grassy area was filled with youngsters running while pulling kites, parents giving their children kite-flying tips and still others sitting under umbrellas.

Food vendors and bounce houses occupied the asphalt, and the sounds of pop music played by a disc jockey gave the scene a carnival atmosphere. The music occasionally stopped for cultural dances or pie-eating contests.

The edges of the lawn were taped off, reserved for a handful of serious kite handlers. Erik Froeming, 45, had driven more than two hours from Pollock Pines, to fly his 25-foot kite shaped like a gecko.

Turns out, according to Froeming, that those who fly the giant-sized kites run in the same circles. Many of them will see each other throughout the year at festivals like Livingston’s or the bigger ones in Morro Bay and Berkeley.

Many of the biggest and most impressive kites spent more time on the ground than in the air. Froeming said the weather was a little too calm to keep the large kites aloft. “You wait for the wind; it’s all you can do,” he said.

This year’s event kicked off the Week of the Young Child, which is meant to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families.

One goal of the festival was to get families away from their electronics. “It’s a day when we get families out,” said Julio Valadez of the Knights of Columbus.

More than 4,000 people from all over the state came and went throughout the day, Valadez said.

A line formed before the gates opened, he said. It took less than 30 minutes for the Knights of Columbus to hand out 500 free kites to children.

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