Niagara Day 1- Kite-flying icons to abound

Niagara gets off to a good start.. we have some rain today but hopefully it will clear up for the weekend…

Buffalo News – Kite-flying icons to abound

2007 festival opens three-day stand in Niagara Falls today
By Pam Kowalik – NEWS NIAGARA BUREAU
Updated: 09/27/07 7:06 AM

NIAGARA FALLS — An 82-yearold man who holds multiple world records for kite flying — one for flying three kites while standing in the back of a moving convertible — will take part in the 2007 Niagara International Kite Festival this weekend.

And Ray Bethell, a kite flying icon who has won numerous awards all over the world as a master kite flier, is the person who will give the festival its international flavor as it takes off today for a four-day run along the Niagara Gorge.

The event starts today in Niagara Falls State Park and moves to Reservoir State Park in Lewiston.

Bethell, who lives in Vancouver, B.C., started sport kite flying in 1980. For many years he flew in team competitions with the Vancouver High Flyers, often placing first, second or third in North American competitions.

He is the holder of 11 world multiple kite records.

“One of the very special [efforts] to me was flying three full-size sport kites . . . simultaneously standing in the back of a red convertible down the main street of Long Beach, Wash., with a police escort with hundreds and hundreds of spectators that lined the sidewalks including the mayor, chief of police and the fire chief,” Bethell wrote in an e-mail.

Bethell was inducted into the World Kite Hall of Fame in Long Beach three years ago, and is among about 40 people who have been honored for kite building, promoting and flying.

“It pleases me that I have been given the opportunity to share my love of kite flying to the people of Niagara along with so many other kite fliers that have come from every part of this planet,” Bethell wrote The News.

The theme for this year’s Niagara International Kite Festival is “Con-

necting the Past, Present, and Future with a Kite String.”

Some of the festival’s highlights include a ceremony from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Friday. The event will take place somewhere along the gorge in Niagara Falls State Park and the exact location will be determined by the weather and the wind speed each day.

A kite made of organic materials will be “sacrificed” to the cascades in hopes of appeasing the wind and weather gods today and Friday. Actors also will display a Homan Walsh 1848 re-enactment contest, trying to connect a string of kites across the Niagara River between Prospect Point on the U.S. side and Victoria Park, in Niagara Falls, Ont. This is how construction started on the first suspension bridge across the river.

Ted Shaw, a director of the Great Lakes Kitefliers Society of Western New York, said he will be flying kites at the event.

“I just enjoy seeing all the color in the air, all the shapes,” Shaw said. “It’s amazing to me to be able to fly all the kites in the same area.”

Shaw spends a few hundred dollars a year on his kite passion.

Kate Scaglione, director of marketing and communications for the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., said people of all ages will have the opportunity to make kites in free workshops. She also said the festival will go on, even if it rains. “These kite fliers are so into what they’re doing that it doesn’t seem to bother them in the least.”

On Saturday and Sunday, the festival moves to Reservoir State Park. There will be kites of all descriptions — large inflatable show kites, artistic kites, sport kites, historical kites, indoor kites and fighter kites.

Activities run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. There will be kite making workshops from 1 to 3 p.m. both days.

Events include a discussion on kite history and exhibitions on kite aerial photography, miniature kites and kite stamps, and demonstrations of kite buggying and kite mountain boarding are scheduled for both days. For information on these activities and more, go to www.niagarakite.com.

pkowalik@buffnews.com