Take flight with kites
Mary Poppins, that most-proper nanny, wasn’t all starch and regimented bedtimes.
She knew that there were days, when the breeze was right and the spring restlessness high, that the really proper thing to do was to step outside and release a kite into the sky.
National Kite Month kicks off Saturday, and Lancaster County Parks Department is taking full advantage of this spring season’s winds and long-overdue sunshine with a session of kite building and flying in Lancaster County Central Park (see below for details).
All materials will be provided to make a sled kite, a design that, says Mary Ann Schlegel, the park naturalist who will lead the event, “is very simple, very easy to get up and fly.”
The kites will make a cheerful sight: After the kites are made, their builders can personalize them with boldly colored permanent markers and tails made from flagging tape in “electric colors,” Schlegel says.
Children can then easily pick out their creations, and love seeing their brightly decorated kites soaring overhead — “of course, the adults can, as well,” Schlegel adds with a laugh.
Before you toss that kite in the air and take off running to get it airborne, Schlegel has some tips for keeping your kite — and your kite-flyer — safe:
- “Never, ever, ever fly kites near power lines,” Schlegel says.
- If your kite does happen to get tangled in overhead lines, notify the utility company and let them deal with it. Don’t try to remove the kite yourself. Ever.
- Never use wire to fly your kite, Schlegel says. Instead, use kite string, found in most hardware stores. It’s fairly light and thin, but still strong enough to control the kite.
- Never let the kite string run through your fingers. Have it wrapped on some kind of spool — even a thick dowel will work fine.
- And, while we’re at it, you don’t need to use the entire spool of kite string. Cut a couple hundred feet off and wrap it around your dowel or other kite string holder; that usually will be plenty.
- It looks like fun, but you don’t really need to go racing across a field to get your kite aloft. As Schlegel notes with a laugh, “it can be kind of dangerous to be looking up in the sky while you’re running.”
- To get your kite into the air, stand with your back to the wind, give it a little string and pump it a bit into the air to keep the string taut.
- Give people their space. Don’t try to fly your kite right next to theirs; you’ll both end your kite-flying session trying to untangle your kite strings.
- And finally, Schlegel says, if you really want to be prepared, bring along some folding scissors so you can cut your kite free if it’s snarled with someone else’s.
A new set of wings will cost you “tuppence for paper and strings,” Mary Poppins sings — and the kite-building clinic Saturday at Lancaster County Central Park is similarly a great deal: $5 per kite-maker and $1 per helper.
Naturalist Mary Ann Schlegel will help participants assemble, personalize and test-fly simple kites.
Time: 10:30 a.m. to noon, rain or shine.
Where: Environmental Center, Lancaster County Central Park, 1 Nature’s Way, just off Eshelman Mill Road.
Registration is required by calling 295-2055. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
By: Jen Kopf