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Haulover Beach Kite Day: Cuban Tradition Meets Modern Construction

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There's something about kites that takes you back to the days of Twinkies, cheese balls, and Hi-C juice boxes, where the biggest worry on your mind was not having enough time to run around barefoot on the grass. Those were the days.

Well, you can't turn the clock back, but you can reminiscence the good ol' days of kite flying at Haulover Beach Park's Kite Day Kite Festival.

The festival will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this Sunday with a "Kites of the Caribbean" theme. Along with the traditional 150-foot rainbow, 100-foot squid, and 30-foot scuba diver, flags from Cuba, Haiti, and Trinidad, to name a few, will be flown over the shores of the Atlantic.

Watching these kites soar hundreds of feet over the shore is a marvel in itself. But there's more to Kite Day than simple physics. For some Miamians, the kites are an expression of creativity and ethnic culture.

Dan Ward of Skyward Kites, the company behind Kite Day, has been flying

and making kites for about 40 years. He's used to spending days on end constructing his most elaborate flying attractions.

"[Kites with] a lot of art, work, and detail take, like, a week," Ward said.

The process consists of having a pattern to work with, fabric, string, and patience. Lots of it. Ward

uses rip-stop nylon, which is a very light and strong fabric that is

difficult to tear. It's the same material used for sailboats and


He lays the fabric across the floor, takes measurements, cuts the pieces, rolls them out, and sews them. "[I] lay them on top of each other where they need to go, and stitch them together. It's much like making a pair of pants."


the kite-making ways of the States, traditional Cuban kites are made a

bit differently; the main difference lies in the materials. Carlos

Herrera, who will be flying the Cuban flag this year said that Cuban

kites are made with more accessible materials like Chinese-cut paper, or papel de China, and wooden sticks.

After gathering the materials, Herrera cuts the paper in different patterns and assembles them together using string.


Herrera has been flying kites in Miami for about 12 years, he was first

exposed to them as a child in Cuba by his neighbor.

"He didn't

let anyone in and when you would go in to see it, you couldn't talk,

only look," said Herrera in his native Spanish. "So I would sit down and

learn from him, and then I would sell them."

Kites in Cuba or more than just a past-time, they are part of the culture.

"It's an art for the kids and a way to entertain them"

Kite fights, or peleas del papalote, are very popular on the island.


[kids] will tie a razor to the tail of the kite and whenever you would

get close to another kite, you would cut it. The last kite flying would


We're not expecting to see any attack kites at Haulover this Sunday. But the cultural aspect of the "Kites of the Caribbean" theme is what Ward was aiming for.


really neat about being in South Florida [is] we have a lot of guys from the

Caribbean who take a lot of pride in making traditional kites," Ward

said. "[We're] making a museum where people can go up close and

compare kites from Haiti and see how they bring the old traditions

there. What the modern kite makers make is really cool, but it's nice to

have the cultural aspect to it."

Kite Day. Haulover

Beach Park, 10800 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, February 17, noon to 5 p.m. Free,

$6 parking; call 305-893-0906 or visit miamidade.gov/parks.

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