This weekend, if you strolled down any sidewalk in Treasure Island, you’d see goliath nylon scuba divers, sea creatures, UFOs, and more whipping in the wind and soaring through the air. On Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Treasure Island hosted their 25th annual Treasure Island Sport Kite Competition and Festival behind the Bilmar resort.
The kite festival attracted thousands of people, who gathered on the beach to watch pilots of all ages and skill levels guide their creative (and intricate) kites through the wind, as the weather was the perfect blend of sunshine and cool wind. Four-year olds waved their hand-held, three-foot long kites above their heads; four-hundred feet above them, professional pilots expertly coursed their kites.
“You tell people about events like this and they don’t really get it, it’s hard to explain, you gotta see it,” Peter Dolphin, a competitive kite pilot, said.
Dolphin started kiting in 1986 and quickly gained traction internationally. After a kite group from France noticed his skills during an event in New Jersey, he competed in France and has since returned 15 times. For the Treasure Island festival, he created his own canopy kites – including a butterfly and manatee canopy. Due to a physical limitation Dolphin decided to only operate ground displays, but they were just as impressive as the ones in the sky.
Vince O’Brien has 26 years experience flying kites. He described the kite community as a friendly and open one, telling The Gabber he recognized almost every single participant in the festival.
“It’s a good chance to get together and share a hobby with the good friends I’ve known for many years and just have a great day on the beach,” O’Brien said. “The last few years have been really slow because of what’s been happening, but I think everybody’s come out [today]. It’s awesome.”