Hundreds take part in Blossom Kite Festival

Spring is in the air.

The sky around the Washington Monument was littered with hundreds of high-flying kites Saturday as hundreds of people descended on the National Mall for the Blossom Kite Festival.

“You’re at the center of the political universe so It’s a wonderful place to fly a kite,” participant Dana Hannah said. "You can take advantage of all that hot air coming off the Capitol building.”

Amateur and experienced kite-fliers were all looking for the same thing: good wind.

The wind, at least 5 mph less than hoped for, was not as strong as the enthusiasm of some of the fliers.

“It’s not that windy,” Karen Rambo of Falls Church, Va., said. “This is my son’s kite, but he got tired after running so much, so I’m trying. It’s good exercise.

The lack of wind didn’t stop the competition.

Some kite enthusiasts competed for awards in over 36 categories including aerodynamic, beauty, box and funniest design. There was a “hot tricks” shootout, a stunt kite flying competition in which two kite fliers competed to see who could perform the most interesting tricks in a 30-second countdown.

Others brought hand-stitched and homemade kites to enter into the competition. Kite makers from up and down the East Coast, Japan and China participated.

Jon Burkhardt of the festival's Kite Advisory Committee's responsibilities include judging the kites and picking a winner in the kite-making division. He looks for good craftsmanship, structure and design as well as beauty in the air.

“The one thing that gets me and if I look at a kite and say I’d like to take that home – then that’s what really gets me,” Burkhardt said. “I really go for the visual appeal.”

For the newest kite fliers, it's all about the height.

“I think my kite is going to be way up there,” 8-year-old Tyler Hammond said, pointing up to the Washington Monument. “Up, like, at the clouds.”

Saturday's event was part of the ongoing National Cherry Blossom Festival.