August 4, 2010
Berkeley -- 22 for the 25th!

I think it is interesting to read festival reports or review photo collections. People have such different perceptions depending on what they fly, where they hang out, or who they hang with.

Octo Stack

Berkeley is a great example. You can see pictures of the Rev fliers, the art kites, or the stuff being flown on Kite Hill. And of course, any of those are a legitimate perspective. Me? I fly the big stuff in the Show Kite Field and don't stray far from my anchors.

Berkeley celebrated a 25th anniversary this year. Pretty impressive!

I remember when Tom McAlister called and told me that the West Coast Championships would no longer be on Marina Green and he was thinking of shifting them to his new festival at Cesar Chavez Park. "The winds are too strong" I joked. "The fields aren't level. And how are you going to get anyone out to a converted landfill to watch kites??"

Twenty years later, the Berkeley festival is a huge annual success that draws great kite fliers, a delightful show, and huge, HUGE crowds to discover and enjoy kiting.

There was a time when the West Coast Championships drew 100 competitors. But at some point, the focus shifted to Big Kites. It may have been when Bob Anderson flew his giant Sock on the Hill. Or perhaps it was Brian Champie and Dan Whitney lifting larger inflatables. But my personal take is that it happened the day Lolly Hadzicki missed her plane and the Revolution learn-to-fly field was left open. Susie and I took advantage of the vacancy to fly an Octopus in the middle of the festival. And suddenly, instead of off on one side, the large kites were in the main arena.

Cool Octos

For a bit of history, see 2000, 2001, and 2002. The first Octopile was in 2003

I called Tom earlier this year and suggested an Octopus gathering for his 25th anniversary.We would bring Dale Ray along and the Gomberg Team could deliver 11 kites. The Wranglers had 10. Anyone else with a kite would put us at a new record.

Warm Octos

Octopus records are always fun and GKPI has been involved with each of them. We started in 2006 with 12 in Thailand. In 2007. we jumped to 17 in France and then bumped that to 20 at the AKA Convention. Then in 2008, we flew 21 in Lincoln City. (We gathered 22 in Cape Fear last year only to find no wind on the beach!).

New Record

Saturday in Berkeley, the conditions were perfect. We filled the Show Kite Field with 176 tentacles and then sat back and smiled.

Further up on the Hill, Nathan Sendan launched SOLO -- the Super Overlarge Octopus that measures 16 times the size of a standard giant kite.

Octo Fliers

Many thanks to Dale Ray and Joyce Grinder, the Berkeley Kite Wranglers, Brian Champie, and Ben Dantonio for flying Octos.

And big thanks to Tom McAlister for the field and the festival.

Overall, it was a fine festival. And from what I hear, there were Revolutions, and kite demos, and candy drops, rok battles, and art kites, and all kinds of other stuff going on that I never saw.... We were too busys stuffing tentacles back in their bags!

August will be hectic! I fly out a six tomorrow for Bogota. We do a weekend show there and then fly home at midnight Sunday -- arriving in Oregon Monday afternoon.

Wednesday I go to Dieppe Canada. It will be another fine festival and I return the following Monday night. That means I can be in Long Beach on Wednesday. So there is a good chance i'll be seeing you somewhere along the way!

Any of you use the Bing search engine?? Last week their cover page featured a cool photo of the Long Beach Festival and a display of 28 foot Gomberg Crowns. And who was that holding down the anchor line? Our own, lovely, Susan Gomberg!


Long Beach is scheduled for August 16-22. We'll be there! And if you'd like to grab a Crown and come join us -- or start your own Crown Show someplace else, drop us a note and we'll take 20% off the price between now and when the festival starts.

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