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Ray's World Adventures 2000

California Adventure 2000
My 5th - or is it 6th - Berkeley Kite Festival

 The Bay Area Sundowners This festival just keeps getting better and bigger each year. This year was without a doubt the best, wind and weather wise. Thousands of spectators support this festival and competition, unlike at some other festivals where many people happen to be there vacationing at the time of a kite festival. The people of Berkeley come strictly to fly their kites and to watch kiters do their stuff.

They certainly got more than they came for. The sky was one mass of beautiful color as kites of every description hovered over Caesar Chavez Park. The demonstration arena was never empty; flyers thrilled spectators with their talent throughout each day of the festival. Michael Weingand did a great job again as announcer, keeping spectators well informed about what was going on in the demonstration arena. The competitions were also well organized and ran very smoothly. I know for a fact that there were a lot of great flyers competing, and were out for blood, which is great, as this is the name of the game in any competition. If by chance you did not place, it was not for the want of trying, that's for sure. Check out the competition results at www.highlinekites.com

 Kestrels in Flight I was given my own field again to present all-day multiple kite demonstrations, in a prime spot just inside of the entrance to Caesar Chavez Park. This spot has been reserved for me since the day that so many of the California flyers chipped in to bring "Ray to the Bay". Since then, I have kept the Berkeley kite festival dates booked on my yearly schedule. It is very heart warming when spectators from the previous year come back and bring their family and friends to watch me fly, and request to have their photo taken with me. I am also given many photos that people took in previous years. One lady, Deborah Green, makes up an album of great photos each year to give to me.

Sometimes it is tough, flying all day in strong 18 -20 plus mph wind, keeping your balance while trying not to fall in the Gopher holes. But after landing and looking behind me, and seeing all the smiling happy faces of the people that have gathered, clapping and waving, it makes it all so worthwhile. Deborah Green wrote in the photo album: "Thanks Ray. You bring smiles to so many. We treasure these moments." To me, this is winning the "Gold."

A frightening thing happened to me which, in all the 14 years I have been multiple kite flying, has never happened before and just goes to show you there is always a first time for everything. I was in the demonstration arena all set to fly, waiting for the tap on my shoulder at the first note of my music. I got that tap and launched the kite off my waist, which I have done a million times before. In some very freaky way, my line took one turn around my left hand, first finger, around the top knuckle as the kite traveled straight up in 20 mph wind. The pain was unreal. The line was getting tighter and tighter, and with all my strength I gave a full turn to the right and crashed the kite. After releasing the line from my finger there was a deep groove and the tip was black. I am positive that if the line were any lighter than the 200 lbs I was using, I would have cut the top of my finger off. Anyway, after a quick change of my diaper, I was once again in the arena doing my thing. This was a good lesson and I will surely heed the message. Afterward, Brian said he loved the quotation I used while screaming in pain. I told him it was from one of John Wayne's famous movies, when he was asked by the Indians to surrender, only without the U.

One of the highlights of coming to Berkeley, for me, is having the opportunity to spend time with my good friend Brian Champie. He is literally mother, father, cook, nursemaid, baby sitter and chauffeur, but I think he needs better glasses. As I was waiting outside the Oakland airport, Brian drove right past me, and just caught sight of me when he heard me screaming at the top of my voice, "Daddy! Daddy!" The old couple that were waiting for a cab next to me were looking at me kind of weird. I said, "My?Daddy?drove?right?past?me." The lady said, "Don't worry. He will come back," then kissed me on the cheek and popped a candy into my mouth, which I thought was strange as it still had the wrapper on it. Her husband patted me on the head, then gave me the finger! I stopped crying and waited for Brian. He was back in a few minutes and said, "Sorry Ray, I didn't recognize you with your shirt on."

I think we all owe Brian a big THANK YOU. This big friendly giant is the real backbone of this festival, organizing and spending many hours of his time picking up the gear, setting up the flying fields, etc. Then he takes it down after the festival and packs it all away, ready for next year with only the help of a very small group of volunteers. How many even consider the hours it takes to set up a festival this size as they enter the arena to play? How about giving Brian a big hand shake for a job well done when next you see him?

Many thanks to Tom for again sponsoring me to his festival. As always, I had an awesome time. You betcha, Tom -- I accept your invitation for next year. I would like to thank all the flyers who helped me set up in the arena, which can be a real pain in the bum, with 3 kites and all the tails. Thank you Gerri Adler for volunteering to be my PR person. It was a great idea of yours to be my ears in answering the many questions people ask me, and thanks also for giving the spectators a running commentary while I was flying. Thank you Fred Adler -- your assistance with packing up was very much appreciated. And thanks for making me the tail winders, so much better than the cardboard ones I was using. And last but not least, thanks Brian for your hospitality and friendship. See you at Long Beach, WA.

Thank you for listening,


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