Kite Fest to float above the sand

The Japan America Kite Festival in Seal Beach has become a staple of the after summer/pre-holiday season, gracing the skies above the city’s main beach with a cornucopia of visual candies, floating above in the sky and gracing the viewer’s mind with a springboard to the imagination.

It will invade the Seal Beach sky again from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19.

Initiated in 1996 by Up Up & Away Kites and its founder, the late Monty Weston, the event has grown to become a regular and highly anticipated happening on the calendar of events held in the Old Town area of the city.

Giant, often puffy kites, shaped like sharks, snakes, cartoon cats and jumbo jets shimmer overhead in the ocean breeze during the Festival, while smaller ones dance nearby. It’s a spectacle that reflects the “you’re never too old to fly a kite” spirit of Weston and the business at 139 1/2 Main Street in Seal Beach that spawned the event.

Meanwhile, there is an assortment of eclectic entertainment down on the sand, in the shade of the Seal Beach pier.

“Along with all the awesome cultural activities like Taiko, Naginata, “Glass Candy” and multiple Dance Groups, we’ll have a wee bit of kite flying going on as well,” said Glen E. Rothstein, director of Region 12 of the American Kitefliers Association.

Rothstein said he was enthusiastic about the prospects of this year’s festival to be the biggest and best to date.

“We’ll have fresh talent, multiple AKA Grand National Champions and World Champions will be performing Sport Kite Demos throughout the day on a new and improved demo field,” he said. “Chicago Fire, the Kite Kids, Team N-Sync, Chieko Tagami and Miguel Rodriguez to name a few.

“Show Kites will also be on tap with our local Lyle Walter, Bay Area Teddy Bear Brian Champie and Crew and Kite Masters Mikio Toki, Ron Gibian and many others will paint the sky with their phenomenal creations.”

A Fighter Kite round robin demo competition will also be taking place in the morning, courtesy of the North American Fighter Kite Association and other FKE’s.

Meanwhile, the Up Up and Away Kite Club and the San Diego Kite Club will be out in force sharing what they love with the world.

For children there will be free craft kites, the Japanese Game Corner, tail chases and the Candy Drop.

Up Up and Away Kites will provide the kites and accessories that are needed.

“This festival happens due to the tireless efforts of the Japan America Society, our sponsors, and the kiting community,” Rothstein said.

The Japan America Society of Southern California joined the Festival in 2000, when it also took on its current, trademarked name.

The festival has been a draw for more than a decade for kite enthusiasts including Seal Beach locals as well as new and seasoned visitors to the seaside city. With its free admission, the Japan America Kite Festival in Seal Beach is the largest kite festival in southern California.