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Ray's World Adventures 2001

My Third Adventure on Ice
Kites on Ice Kite Festival - Madison, Wisconsin, USA
February 3-4, 2001

 Ray on the front cover of the Wisconsin State Journal This festival just keeps getting bigger and better every year, this being the best yet, in spite of colder temperature and lighter wind than in the two previous years.

Once again everything came together like clockwork due to the fine organization skills of Linda Underwood, Executive Director. With her unique staff, working together with the coordinating committee, putting this event together along with 60 world class kite flyers (28 of them international) and you have the combination for a World class International Kite Festival at its very best. And once again this was exactly what it was from day one, right up to the very last minute.

The one thing that really amazes me is the tens of thousands of local people of Madison that come out to support their festival. Madison has a population of around 200,000 people, and at any given time in the beautiful Monona terrace Community and Convention Center, in which the workshops, displays and exhibitions plus the very spectacular and majestic theatrical performances of indoor flying by some of the worlds best indoor flyers, were held, it was indeed wall to wall people. It looked like everyone in Madison was there, as well as the thousands of spectators that were on the ice. This festival must be by far, the most supported kite festival by the local people in North America. It has the very unique flavor of the European kite festivals, which are very family oriented. It is a wonderful feeling to see the excitement in the children's faces, and the real bonus for me is when people and families seek you out to thank you personally for the show and for coming to Madison.

Saturday was by far the best day, great wind that pleased all the kite flyers and especially Jody McCann, the Sport Kite show coordinator, whom I must add, once again did a super job in organizing the sport kite demonstrations. The performers each in their turn had the thousands of spectators spell bound with their performances choreographed to music. It is a great pleasure and honor to share the Sport Kite ice arena with such great talented World Class flyers who give their all to entertain the citizen's of Madison with their beautiful choreographed routines. Seeing it from the spectator's perspective it is like looking on to a huge gigantic stage, with the sunshine and the sky above as stage lighting. The arena was filled with some of the world's finest designed single line kites of every color and form -- swaying gently as if they were dancing to the music that was heard all across the beautiful and magnificent 4,000 acre Lake Monona.

Saturday, the winds blew all day and then right on though for the night fly. What a magnificent sight to behold, the night sky was filled with kites of every description. I don't think a single kite was left in anyone's kite bag. Every kite in the sky was being illuminated by all the different light systems, and for sure every one from Madison was out in full force, to watch this -- for many it was a once in a lifetime sight. And to give it more of a visual impact, a light snow was falling. As the different lighting caught the snow, it looked like confetti, which added a kind of theatrical affect thrown in by Mother Nature. And then as if this was not enough, the sky became illuminated with a spectacular ten minute fire works show, what a great climax to a perfect night fly -- and an awesome day of flying.

We were all a bit behind schedule since we all were very reluctant to leave the night fly, and had to really pack up in a big hurry, as we did not want to be late for the banquet. It turned out to be a great evening, what a great way to unwind and relax socializing with flyers, some of them I had only met a few months ago at other kite festivals in another part of the world, and the banquet food was fit for a King.

On Sunday every one was again on the ice early ready for another great day, but alas the wind was very light. In spite of it, everyone did their very best to entertain the thousands of spectators who seemed not to notice the lack of wind or the great efforts the flyers were having to complete their demonstrations. This is expertise, and professionalism at its very best (the show must go on).

 A happy Boot Drinking contestant The Sunday evening farewell dinner was held as it has been for the last two years, at the Essen Haus German restaurant, who by the way, serve many excellent varieties of beer that one can choose from. :) Once again the favorite game that has become a custom at the Kites On Ice farewell dinner -- "Boot Drinking". The way the German Team "No Limit" was knocking it back, it looked like they had been practicing all year to attempt beating the 1999 and 2000 "Boot Drinking Champions", Team Decorators, who I may add won it again this year. :)

I would like once again on behalf of each and every guest kite flyer to take this opportunity to thank the many Sponsors of Kites On Ice that make this unique Kite Festival happen, the City of Madison and its citizens for making each and every one of us feel so very welcome, Craig Wilson who proved to be quite a Dreamer, and last but by far not least, Linda Underwood and her side kick Kristy Kent-Bracken, and all the great volunteers, plus all the coordinating committee for proving that Dreams can come true. Congratulations, you did it again with flying colors.

Thank you for listening.


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