Sunshine, right amount of wind helps Pierce County kite festival take flight

An array of colors, shapes and streamers blanketed the sky above Chambers Creek Regional Park on Saturday.

It’s a sight Marianne Austin loves to see.

“We like to paint the sky,” she said.

The Tacoma resident is a member of the Pierce County Kitefliers Association, which partnered with Pierce County Parks and Recreation for the third-annual Kite Festival at the University Place park.

The field was covered in so-called “yard art,” hand-made and manufactured kites of all shapes and sizes, and various activities.

The Kitefliers Association attracted members of other kiting groups from around the region, some traveling from as far north as Canada.

Ocean Shores Kites brought a taste of the Washington coast to Chambers Bay, setting up shop to sell kites to patrons who wanted to take the fun home.

Some kids jumped in bounce houses and chowed down on shaved ice and kettle corn, while others lined up to make their own kites with the help of volunteers.

Logan Harris, 5, said making his green kite — inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — was the highlight of the day. Well, that and the Seahawks 12th Man kite he saw flying overhead.

Mother Nichole Harris said the family drove from Puyallup for the event.

“We love kites,” she said, adding that it’s great to see lots of them without having to drive three hours to the coast. “It’s active and it gets them out of the house.”

Harris said the free event was great family fun, even with some minor hazards.

“She got hit with one of the kites,” she said, pointing to her sister Melissa White while chuckling.

Austin, of the kitefliers group, said events such as Saturday’s help kids and families think about kite-flying differently, while having fun in the sun.

“It’s a good, healthy family activity,” she said. “It gives people the opportunity to express their artistic abilities.”

About 1,000 people were expected to attend Saturday’s festival, 250 more than last year.

“This is the best weather we’ve had for this event,” said Chad Harvell, recreation coordinator for Pierce County parks and recreation. “Just the right amount of wind.”

Steilacoom resident Heather Thomas, another Kitefliers Association member, said perfect wind is what her group anxiously awaits.

“We hold our breath each year,” she said, laughing.

The Kimpel family from Tacoma enjoyed a little bit of everything.

They’ve come to the festival every year to take advantage of an affordable event with a spectacular view, Matt Kimpel said.

His 6-year-old daughter, Nicole, won glow necklaces in a drawing after making a blue-and-green kite. The color scheme was no surprise: The Seahawks kite was her favorite, too, she said.

Emily Rhinehart, a parks employee, has worked the event all three years and didn’t need words to explain why the festival is an important event each year.

“Look at it,” she said, pointing to dozens of kites in the sky. “Look how amazing it is. It brings a sense of community.”