Celebrate the science and art of kite flying
WAYNESBORO, Pa. — On Saturday, April 15, the sky above the meadow at Renfrew Museum & Park will be filled with kites and colors for Kite Fun Fly 2017.
Renfrew Institute Executive Director Melodie Anderson-Smith said the annual Kite Fly is a return to simpler times.
“One reason I love the event so much is because it’s very simple. All you need is a kite. You don’t need electricity and you don’t need money,” she said.
The Kite Fly, now in its 22nd year, began when volunteer Bill Flohr was on a Renfrew event planning committee.
“At the time, he ran adult kite-making workshops. Bill was a kite master and a kite-making specialist as a hobby. He offered to do a workshop,” Anderson-Smith said.
Kite Fly, she said, “meshes with the mission” of Renfrew Institute on two fronts – environmental and cultural.
“We offer programs in cultural education and in environmental education. Kite flying is very eco-friendly and it is a family-friendly activity. It doesn’t cost much and you don’t have to plug it in. All you need is a beautiful day. It is a perfect outdoor family activity,” she said.
The community responded favorably to early events with Flohr’s workshops. When he stepped down, Sam and George Adams of Chambersburg, Pa., took over the reins.
“They had been attending the Kite Fly every year and bringing some special kits they had constructed, so I asked them if they would do an event and be the new kite masters,” Anderson-Smith said.
Now in their sixth year leading the Kite Fly, the Adams brothers will offer free individual instruction and demonstrations of kite flying techniques throughout the event, which runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. From 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., they will lead a kite-making workshop. Admission to the event is free. Participants should bring their own kites. There will be a $1 donation to participate in the kite-making workshop to cover the cost of materials.
The Adams brothers have studied and built large models of working kites that were early precursors to aircraft, such as the Wright brothers’ early gliders, Anderson-Smith said. They flew kites as children, as many people did, but their interest led them to continue on with the hobby into adulthood.
While store-bought kites sometimes can be difficult to fly, kites constructed at the workshop will be a variety called sled kites and Anderson-Smith said they are “foolproof.”
“They fly,” she said. “So when kids put these kites together, they run over into the meadow and the kite goes up. That’s what we want is success. There is no better joy than to see a child walk away from that kite-making table and immediately see their kite go up. Their faces light up, there are squeals of laughter. They say, ‘It flied!’ There is just nothing better than that.”
Even sled kites, though, require agreeable winds. Kite flying “reminds everybody that humans are subject to the natural world,” Anderson-Smith said.
“The sky will be filled with kites for a while, then there might be a lull if the wind dies down. Then we need to be patient until the wind comes and blows again,” she said. “You are reliant on the wind. We need what is provided for us for some things in life. That puts people back in touch with nature, which is part of our mission in environmental education and awareness.”
April is National Kite Month. Renfrew hosts a Kite Fly annually, but last year’s event was canceled due to sleet. This year, the event — which usually draws around 200 people — will coincide with Renfrew Museum & Park’s Easter Egg Hunt. The hunt is at 1 p.m. The kite-making workshop is scheduled to end a half hour prior to the hunt.
“With the workshop running back to back with the egg hunt, we are expecting even bigger crowds this year, which will be nice,” Anderson-Smith said. “The more, the merrier. These are great ways to celebrate spring and that is what we are doing.”