The Kites of Death at the Arvada Kite Festival

Saturday was about redemption.

Four years ago, my husband Jamie and I attempted to fly the expensive stunt kites we had requested for Christmas.

And four years ago, our then-baby Hadley repeatedly escaped death as our kites dive-bombed the ground at speeds fast enough to kill, welp, a small child.

It was our first and only attempt at kite-flying.

Last weekend, I decided it was time to resurrect Said Kites of Death at the 8th annual Arvada Kite Festival. There were prizes awarded for the highest, smallest, largest and most visually appealing kites but my ambitions were simple: I wanted to learn how to simply fly one.

For those unfamiliar with stunt kites, they are a complicated species. With two different lines to manoeuvre, figuring out which line to pull at the exact moment the wind takes it is about as easy as passing college physics (hence the reason why I took it three times).

My husband Jamie conveniently had a prior commitment so I recruited my children and four unsuspecting house guests who were visiting from Arizona. When we arrived at Robby Ferrufino Park, hundreds of kite-flying enthusiasts and spectators were gathered to watch the colorful creations soar.

I assigned guests Ray and Val to the stunt kite while I assembled the $10 Target kite for my kids. My strategy was to let my friends figure out the stunt kite and then impart their greater light and knowledge upon me. In the interim, I would blissfully lope across the field with my Kite for Dummies.

Only this dummy couldn’t get it up in the air.

You know: the kite that was supposed to be easy.

All around me, kites were kites were soaring but no matter how much I ran, jumped and prayed, my kite refused to take flight. When I was at the height of my frustration, my string got tangled up. As I was unraveling it, a gust of wind swooped my kite up, rendering my efforts fruitless.

“Stay down,” I barked at my kite.

I stopped. What was I saying? The kite had finally taken flight on its own. I released it higher and higher to the sky, yelping with glee. I was finally giving the nearby 3-year-old and her flimsy Dora the Explorer kite a run for her money.

All $2 that it was worth.

Val and Ray, on the other hand, weren’t having much luck. Even though they had a few successful launches, they were unable to keep the stunt kite airborne for more than 15 seconds before it became a crash pad for some unsuspecting kite enthusiast.

Who, not surprisingly, was never enthusiastic about the crash landing.

Help was needed and it came in the form of Mike Shaw who took pity on us. This prize-winning entrant in the Grand National Kite Festival played a large role in originally bringing the Arvada Kite Festival to fruition.

He patiently explained the strategy behind the stunt kites and shared his own “kiting” journey with us. He has more than 40 kites, many of which he sewed himself.

“So, if there is any wisdom you could impart on me about learning to fly the stunt kite today, what would it be?” I queried.

“Don’t try to learn at a crowded festival. You’ll probably kill someone.”

Touché. Better luck learning next year.

Just not at the 9th annual Arvada Kite Festival.

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