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May 7, 2008 > Magic in the sky

Magic in the sky

Linked to a slender string, they dance, swoop and sometimes fight while traveling with and through air currents sweeping across the surface of the earth. Shape and function may have changed throughout the ages, but love for these creatures of the sky has held a prominent place in many cultures throughout the world.

Once again, the official kite weather prediction is favorable for Annual Family Kite Day in Newark. Every year, on a special afternoon, blue skies appear and a preview of long, warm summer day breezes carry a multitude of kites - giants to minis - aloft. This is Family Kite Day, an annual tradition as families from the greater Tri-City area gather to listen to music, build, decorate and fly kites, marvel at huge kites and participate in carnival games and jump houses. Another tradition, "candy drops" from specialty kites carrying buckets of goodies, will be held during the event.

This wonderful afternoon of fun and entertainment is made even better since FREE parking is plentiful and all activities are FREE. For those who feel a bit of hunger, the "Iron Chefs" of Newark Firefighters Local 1483 will again provide barbeque hot dogs and hamburgers for minimal cost.

It is believed that kites originated in Asia 3,000 years ago for religious and military purposes. For some, kites are a New Year's tradition while others let them ascend with messages for heaven. Military applications included use as a spy platform. An early account from 200 BC tells a story of Chinese general Han Hsin. Han and his rebel army were planning a surprise attack on the tyrannical emperor's palace. To calculate the length of a tunnel built to end up directly in the palace's courtyard, a kite was flown over the spot and the string marked. The subsequent attack was successful and marked the beginning of the Western Han Dynasty.

Kites made their way to Europe with Marco Polo around the end of the 13th century, mostly as a curiosity. They became useful in the 18th and 19th centuries as methods to study wind, barometric pressure and electricity. (Remember Benjamin Franklin's electricity experiment with a kite and key?) The Wright brothers studied aerodynamics of kites to research flying machines and during World War I, British, French, Italian and Russian armies used kites to lift men to observe enemy camps. Kites were used for air rescue and target practice by the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Since WWII, kites have remained popular leading to Rogallo's 1948 flexi-wing and the modern hang glider. Jalbert's parafoil introduced the sports parachute. Kites have changed shapes and become elaborate in design and function. Now, single line denizens of the skies are complimented by two-line and four-line variations.

Family Kite Day will be held this year on Saturday, May 10, from noon - 4 p.m. at Sportsfield Park next to Silliman Center in Newark.

For more information about this event, call (510) 742-4400.


Family Kite Day
Saturday, May 10
Noon - 4 p.m.
Silliman Recreation Complex
6800 Mowry Ave., Newark
(510) 742-4400

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