OCEAN CITY – Ocean City will explode with color at this weekend’s Sunfest Kite Festival, which is celebrating its 30th year as a world-class event.
Recognized as one of the top 100 most popular venues on the planet, the Sunfest Kite Festival features kite making workshops, kite flying games, relays, “candy drops,” kite competitions and plain kite spectating. The best news of all is it’s free.
In September of 1977, kite clubs from Maryland, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and New Jersey came together in Ocean City to celebrate the first-ever kite festival held in conjunction with Sunfest. The event became so popular that in 1988 Ocean City was declared the Kite Capital of the World not only by then-Ocean City Mayor Harry Kelley but by none other than Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer.
In the early years of the festival, kite flyers from around the world were invited to Ocean City to attempt world records. No less than seven records were set, in accordance with Guinness world record judging standards.
The strongest pulling kite was measured at 480 pounds of vertical lift. The longest flying kite lasted over seven days and held for the record for several years. Ocean City still claims the record for fastest kite, set during Hurricane Hugo and measured by a state trooper’s radar gun at 120 mph. A 50-foot tall box kite and 50-foot tall Rokkaku hold the records for largest kites in their category.
Of the many activities planned over the course of the four-day kite festival is the “Mass Ascensions” and “Rokkaku Battle”. These events pack Ocean City’s Boardwalk with spectators.
During the daily “Mass Ascensions,” visitors and kite flyers alike gather on the beach at 6th Street and on cue launch their kites. The result is a kaleidoscope of color painted in the sky. The first 100 participants receive limited edition pins.
The “Rokkaku Battle” is a popular spectator activity held on Saturday afternoon in front of the Kite Loft on 5th Street. Individuals launch Japanese kites and attempt to cut each other out of the sky. During Sunfest’s “Rokkaku Battle,” teams of flyers maneuver their six-sided Japanese fighting kites in an attempt to disable their opponent’s kite. Teams are comprised of three kite flyers and last year Sunfest hosted 18 teams. This year, teams from all over the east coast will be trying to outmaneuver last year’s winner, Mike Van Meers, of Gaitherburg, Md.