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Ray's World Adventures 2003

14th Great Lakes Kite Festival
a benefit for The Children's Leukemia Foundation

Grand Haven, Michigan - June 7 - 8, 2003

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 Festival Graphic I have been invited many times to participate at this festival but the dates of the festival always clashed with other festivals that I had committed my self to, this time the organizer Steve Negen invited me a year in advance.

The flight from Vancouver B.C. to Muskegon, Michigan was a little Mickey Mouse as it takes 3 plane flights to get there Seattle, Detroit, Muskegon. This was my very first time to the Detroit airport. Everything looked very modern, but the thing I did not go a bundle on was the 30 minute walk from the arrival gate to the departure gate. When I did get there, there was no seating for waiting passengers, you either stood or sat on the floor. I had a 30 minute wait before boarding. All of a sudden I felt a friendly hand on my shoulder, it was the very pretty and talented quad line flyer, Lolly Hadzicki who was also on her way to Muskegon. Had I known she would have been at the departure gate I would have made the 30 minute walk in 30 seconds. :-)   It is only an hour flight from Detroit to Muskegon airport. We arrived at 10:15 pm and Steve was there to meet me. He drove me to the Blue Water Inn where he had booked a nice room for me for my stay in Grand Haven, which was just a 3 minute walk to the festival site. My room had a fantastic view of Lake Michigan - Wow! I mean what a lake, it is more like the ocean. It is huge. I was told it is 250 miles long 80 miles wide, bigger than many European cities.

I really enjoyed Grand Haven. It is very peaceful and has a very relaxing feeling, especially while strolling the two and a half mile Boardwalk from Chinook Pier and passing the downtown area to the very picturesque Pier on Lake Michigan. I walked there on the morning before my 2 pm flight home. Another great attraction is Grand Haven Musical Fountain -- quoted as the largest Musical Fountain on this Planet -- it is a synchronized light and music show. The evening before Eric, the captain of the Chicago Fire Sport Kite Team, took me to the water front right opposite Dewey Hill where the fountain is located, what a magnificent sight. The red and orange streaks reaching across the horizon and the water sprays leaps125 feet in to the air then the showers move from side to side or up and down according to the beat of the music. This is one of the times I really miss my ears. :-(

The festival is a two day event and flyers from many parts of the US attend. Some were returning for the 14th time -- it was great seeing so many of the kiting friends that I have know and flown with at so many US kite festivals in the past. I loved the attitude of this festival no set rules, all the flyers working together as a team to bring joy and entertainment to the spectators, and entertain they sure did. The demonstration arena was never empty -- there were individuals, pairs and kite teams doing what they have come to do and enjoying every minute. Continuous demonstrations were put on by the very popular Chicago Fire, Lee and Sue Sedgwick, the one and only Lam Hoac, the giant but oh such a gentle revolution stack flier Sam Ritter, just to name a few. There were far too many to name here.

There were also dozens and dozens of single line flyers who did a great job filling the sky with their great kites, which made a awesome back drop to the demonstration arena. Mark Reed from Prism, Dodd Gross from New Tech worked their butts off teaching the art of freestyle trick flying to all comers. No one has to look further than these to guys as they are the very best. Lolly Hadzicki and her sidekick were also very busy through out the festival teaching quad line flying.

I was given my own arena but the wind was not the best I have ever flown in. It was coming from inland, but when in Rome do as the Romans do!! Which is the best you can, and the way everyone did there stuff you would never have guessed there were any wind problems. On Saturday afternoon the wind did change from East to North, which was like the difference between chalk and cheese, which was great as we could really put on a show that the spectators had come to see. From that point, the weather was great the rest of the festival was blue skies, sunny and warm. And just like Kites On Ice in Madison the local people really support their kite festival and are a very appreciative audience. The festival was a huge success and I have been invited again in 2004, and for sure I will be back in spite of the Mickey Mouse flight :-)

I would like to thank Steve Negen the organizer, and the sponsors for sponsoring me to participate in this World Class kite festival I enjoyed this trip immensely not only the kite festival and all the kite flyers but also New Haven. I have had a tough time on the home front these last few months and this was the first time I felt relaxed. Maybe being surrounded with old kite friends, being pampered by the organizer, whom I know went out of his way to make sure that everything was cool plus his great crew of volunteers had a lot to do with me enjoying this trip so much.

Just before Steve drove me back to the airport, which I like to mention is very modern but very small compared to other airports, I was told when asking one of the officials why it is so small, he said it is because no one ever wants to leave New Haven. :-(   Steve gave me a visit to Hoffmaster State Park to show me the towering sand dunes which collectively represent the World's largest accumulation of sand dunes bordering a body of fresh water. This was indeed some thing unique for me as I had spent a week flying kites on the biggest sand mass in the World on Frazer Island, Queensland, Australia.

The trip home was not so bad as I could relive the very happy times I had in the last four days.

Thank you for listening


Related links:

Mackinaw Kites and Toys

Blue Water Inn - 1030 Harbor, Grand Haven (616) 846-7431

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