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A Celebration With Strings Attached

Sunday, March 27, 2005; Page P02

April is the month of tulips, spring showers, fools, filing your taxes -- and flying your kite. Indeed, the American Kitefliers Association and the Kite Trade Association International have declared April National Kite Month, and the groups hope to assemble 1,000 kite-related events worldwide throughout the month (to date, 162 exist). So, go ahead and unfurl that kite into the bright blue sky and let the breeze take it -- and you -- wherever it may. -- Andrea Sachs

HIGH-FLYING EVENTS: More than 25 states will host kite events in April, as well as a smattering of international locations, such as Jakarta, Indonesia; Ontario, Canada; and the Netherlands (for a list, see Info below). On the West Coast, Lincoln City, Ore., is the self-proclaimed "Kite Capital of the World," thanks to its breezy brew of warm equatorial air and cold polar air. The city, about two hours west of Portland, will host the Friendly Fly April 8-10, during which hundreds of kite fliers will amass on the D River Wayside Beach for a group fly. Local businesses will also decorate their storefronts with kites and windsocks. Info: 800-452-2151, www.oregoncoast.org.

On the other side of the country, the Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center (617-696-0562, www.bluehill.org), atop a mountain range south of Boston in Milton, plans to have a daily kite event in April at either its facility or another New England site. Among its activities: the National Kite Month Kick-Off Fly, for kite flying and kite-making workshops ($5) on April 2, and the free open house for lectures on kites and hurricanes, demos, etc. (April 30). You can also tour the observatory ($3), which has made a science out of kite flying and weather.

CLOSE TO HOME: The Smithsonian Kite Festival (202-357-3030, www.kitefestival.org) on April 2 will fill the Mall with colorful dragon tails and swooping gliders. In addition, the Rokkaku Challenge pits Japanese-style kites in a high-altitude battle, while daredevils face off at the Hot Tricks Showdown.

At the April 3 Kite Flying Frenzy (540-665-5678, www.co.frederick.va.us) in Frederick County, Va., members of the Richmond Air Force discuss the art, history and science of kites, plus perform high-flyin' feats. Free, but BYOK. You can catch the RAF again on April 16, at the Blue Ridge Kite Festival in Salem, Va. Info: www.richmondairforce.com.

For year-round flying, the Wings over Washington Kite Club (www.kites.org/WOW) holds social flies the first Sunday of every month at the Washington Monument, among other activities.

THE WINDIEST CITIES: According to the National Climatic Data Center, the best places to fly a kite are in the country's windiest cities: Blue Hill, Mass.; Dodge City, Kan.; Amarillo, Tex.; Rochester, Minn.; and Cheyenne, Wyo.

Cheyenne, for one, has large swaths of open prairie where your kite won't get stuck in a tree. Try Lions Park (Carey Avenue at Eighth Avenue), which also has boating and a botanical garden, or Curt Gowdy State Park (1351 Hynds Lodge Rd.), an old pit stop for Native Americans during the bison hunt. Info: Cheyenne Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-426-5009, www.cheyenne.org.

Poor Chicago -- it didn't even rank in the center's top 10, but the original Windy City still has some good gusts. Besides the Perry Farm Kite Festival (April 23-24; www.btpd.org/perryfarmkitefest), about an hour south of the city in Bourbonnais, the Chicago Kite store (708-848-4907, www.chicagokite.com) offers free duel-line lessons (controllable stunt kites) along the lakefront. If you've got the string of it, grab your superfly and catch some of those Great Lake breezes.

SPORTING LIFE: Kiteboarding/surfing has become a highly competitive water sport -- the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association will hold World Cup events in Venezuela and Vienna in April -- but amateurs can ride the wind and waves as well.

North Carolina's Outer Banks is awash in kiteboarders; Kitty Hawk Kites (877-359-8447, www.kittyhawk.com), for example, offers lessons from $99. X-Kitesters are also strapping kites onto anything that carves, rolls or cruises -- kite skating (on rollerblades), kite skiing (on snow or sand), kite buggying (cart + kite = crazy 50 mph ride), kite snowboarding and kite dragging (no board, just body parts). The Jersey Shore's Cobra Kites (732-506-0461, www.cobrakites.com) provides instruction in power and traction kiting; a buggy lesson, for example, starts at $60.

GO BUY A KITE: Kites are sold in an array of retail stores, from specialty kite shops to Target. You can also buy your wind toys online, such as Into the Wind (www.intothewind.com) and Kitty Hawk Kites (see above).

INFO: Kite Trade Association, 541-994-3453, www.kitetrade.org; American Kitefliers Association, 800-252-2550, www.aka.kite.org; and National Kite Month, www.nationalkitemonth.org.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company


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