Berks skies filled with color for ‘Go Fly a Kite! Day'

Item photo by Mary Himmelberger Kiters of all ages and skill levels graced the air with a color of kites spanning several different sports fields at the Youth Recreation Facility.
Item photo by Mary Himmelberger Kiters of all ages and skill levels graced the air with a color of kites spanning several different sports fields at the Youth Recreation Facility.

Birds weren’t the only ones embracing Sunday’s sunny and breezy skies on April 27. Hundreds flocked to the fields of Berks County’s Youth Recreation Facility to share their kite designs and skills in celebration of National Kite Month. The annual tradition – “Go Fly a Kite! Day” – is now a partnered tradition of the Berks County Parks and Recreation Dept. and the Sky Pilots Kite Club, this past event being its 27th year.

The crowds embraced the perfect weather conditions to go fly a kite. The lower level soccer field was embellished with dozens of kites in flight, mostly under the control of children and parents. While some of those in flight were store purchased and ornamented with favorite kids’ characters, many had been recently created at the free sled kite making workshop for children.

The kite workshop consisted of a four step process under the tents: kite coloring/design on plastic followed by the attachment of the dowel rods, the bridles, and of course – the tails. Children meticulously added details to their plastic kite, held down by rocks so they didn’t blow away – while in the background, children took advantage of the windy weather, perfect for keeping their kites bobbing in the air with every draft.

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The upper level field, the other of two “open fly zones”, was also temporary home to dozens of families. Many laid out blankets, anticipating spending a whole day enjoying the sunshine and admiring the colors and the movements. Larger kites were found on this level as well, and various ages – grandparents teaching grandchildren and couples leisurely laying on the grass while holding a kite string. Amateurs and professional stunt flyers each had their place among the crowds; all shared the field with kite courtesy.

Several other special attendees were in attendance, including Stephen Esser – pilot of Bloomin Balloon Hot Air Balloon Adventures in Kutztown. While the windy weather was ideal for kite flying, it was not for hot air balloons. Esser stood inside his basket without the attached balloon, encouraging kids to come peek out from inside but explaining that the winds were too rough to do the demonstrations. Adjacent to him was a display from the Hyner Hang Gliding Club.

Down the path, the Berks County Astonomical Society offered a peak through their high-tech equipment for solar observations; children were intrigued with observing sun spots. Pony rides, concessions, kite sales, face painting, and a bounce house were also present in this area.

Perhaps the most interesting and well-visited tent was that of the “kite hospital.” Dr. Carl taped a plastic kite, following the replacement of the wooden rod in a canvas kite. He said their most common fixes are broken sticks and tangled lines, joking that he always considers wearing scrubs every year to designate himself as the kite surgeon.

The Lehigh Valley Zoo was also present to offer two programs on their “Birds of Prey.” Dozens gathered as three different birds were put on view and admired for their unique attributes and how they mimic the movements of kites.

Although the day ended with more than a dozen awards being given in several divisions, many in attendance weren’t there to compete – but to simply kick back and take advantage of the beautiful weather and marvel at the sky of colors.

Kiters graced the skies outside of the established fly zones as well - on hills, grassy areas adjacent to the parking lot, and even across the street at the Berks West Vo-tech Center. All gathered to celebrate National Kite Month, spring weather, and the County parks asset: the Berks County Youth Recreation Facility.

The next special event hosted by Berks County Parks and Recreation is the Children’s Fishing Rodeo on May 10th, 8:30 a.m. at Hunsicker’s Grove, Mertztown. Children ages 4- 15 are invited to take part in kids crafts, the fishing pond, and viewing demos.