Kites fill sky during festival

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Bruce DeFoor, 52, of Ruidoso gets Ollie the Octopus in the air Saturday at Cannon Air Force Base’s Kite Karnival at Doc Stewart Park. A professional kite flier and member of the American Kitefliers Association.

By Jean Verlich: CNJ News Editor

Kites colored the sky above Doc Stewart Park Saturday and captivated the crowd below at Cannon Air Force Base’s fourth annual Kite Karnival.

“At a good kite festival, you want color on the ground and in the air,” Bruce DeFoor, 52, of Ruidoso explained as he corrected terminology for an air-filled ground toy.

“It’s not a kite,” the former Clovis resident said of balloon-like Spike the Blowfish, which bopped along the ground.

A no-show at last year’s festival, the guest of honor breezed through nicely with wind speeds attendees estimated at 10 to 15 mph.
“It makes all the difference,” DeFoor said of the wind. “It’s really great. It’s out of the world.”

DeFoor had what likely was the largest kite — an 88-foot-long lime-green octopus named Ollie. He bought it from a man in England who sold it after its maiden flight because it dragged him down, DeFoor explained.

“I got a good deal,” said DeFoor, who had the kite tethered to his truck to help control it.

A member of the American Kitefliers Association, DeFoor is considered to be a professional and was one of about a half-dozen kite aficionados invited to the event.

“I have been doing this for 25 years,” he said, noting the smallest kite in his collection “that actually flies” is just 2 inches.

Christening kites and ground toys or ground bouncers is common among the pros.

Walt Mitchell of Lubbock explained, “They’re like a member of my family.”

Another AKA member, Mitchell maneuvered a 40-foot-long, 10-foot-tall ground toy caterpillar named Charlie, the only one in the United States, he said.

Favorable winds enabled novices as well as pros to succeed in getting their kites airborne.

“This is my first time flying a kite,” said Senior Airman Lasondra Hawkins, a ladybug lofting above her.

One of the youngest fliers was Anthony Carter, 2, whose father, Senior Airman Greg Carter, watched as the youngster stood firmly on the ground, holding the string at the right tension to keep his kite aloft.

“I helped him get it up,” the senior Carter confessed.

Anthony was one of the many participants flying kites donated by High Plains Federal Credit Union.

While organizers estimated between 500 and 600 people attended the event, there weren’t enough participants to break the Guinness record for most kites flown. Only 150 people signed up to make the attempt, they said, far short of the 675 needed.

“We had a phenomenal turnout for families,” said Cat Noll, director of the community center at Cannon Air Force Base. “I was so optimistic,” she said about the record-breaking attempt.

“They had a good time and that’s what it’s all about. The main event is celebrating kites.”