The Redondo Pier Assn. hopes a few hundred people will want to go fly a kite Sunday afternoon.
That's the opening day of the three-weekend Festival of the Kite. It will celebrate kite flying as the festival has done for 14 years, while raising some money to help restore the pier, partially destroyed by storms and fire last year.
In addition to public kite flying at the pier from noon to 5 p.m. each Sunday, the free festival will offer a precision stunt-kiting show, Japanese drum dancers, a kite-flying Garfield the cat, and aerial kite combat. This event will raise money for the pier through contributions by South Bay-based businesses sponsoring the fighting kites.
The star attraction on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. will be the Top Of the Line acrobatic kite team from San Diego. The four-member team flies delta-shaped nylon kites with eight-foot wingspans. Each of the big kites are controlled with two lines, enabling the kites to fly in formation, move in opposing directions, loop around each other, all 150 feet above the ground.
"It's amazing what they do," said Randy Joe, owner of the kite shop on the pier. He has been staging the festival for 14 years. "It's like the Blue Angels with kites."
Indeed, the maneuvers of the famed U.S. Navy precision fliers were the model for the team, said manager Michael Dvorak. "It's stunt flying, but with kites," he said. Team leader Don Taber also does kite ballet to classical music, flying three to five kites at a time.
Before and after the entertainment, the main attraction will be an abundance of kites.
"We get people who are kite nuts," said Joe. "Our philosophy is to get the entire family to come out and enjoy the day. When you see a lot of kites in the air, it's really colorful."
He said if the weather is good, 700 to 800 kites should be aloft on Sunday on the beach south of the pier, with hundreds of people watching and taking pictures.
Those who don't bring kites may purchase them for as little as $3.50. Kite experts will be on hand to help assemble the kites and to offer flying tips.
On the second Sunday of the festival, March 12, 100 kites donated by a kite company will be given to senior citizens, who will fly them on the beach. "A lot of them wouldn't normally take part in something like this," Joe said.
A walking, talking Garfield the cat will also put in an appearance and fly a kite, and the Kinnara Taiko Group, Japanese percussionists, will dance and do precision drumming at 2:30 p.m.
To sponsor a kite in aerial combat, companies donate $750 to the Redondo Pier Reconstruction Fund. The businesses get their logos on a kite and something to cheer for during the event, March 19 from 1 to 4 p.m..
Joe said the six-foot-tall, six-sided fighting kites are maneuvered by pulling and releasing control lines. "It's like a tug of war," he said. "When the lines cross, bringing the rope in can create a friction to cut string. The idea is to bring down the other kite."
On all three Sundays, a parasailer will cruise by the festival, suspended above the water on a parachute and pulled by a boat.
Festival-goers, too, will be able to parasail if they win one of the periodic free drawings for the five-minute rides.
Today's kites--no longer simple string and paper affairs--are all shapes, sizes, colors and designs. They are triangular or diamond shaped; they look like sharks, birds and even Mickey Mouse. Joe himself will be flying a three-dimensional life-sized flying crane that looks like a real bird.
Said Joe: "The beach lends itself to kite flying because there's always a wind. Kites are so well-made today, anyone can fly them and get a sense of accomplishment."