The wind is free and there will likely be plenty of it for tomorrow’s first Martha’s Vineyard Wind Festival in Oak Bluffs. The kite-flying festival at Ocean and Waban Parks is a merger of many new and old ideas. It’s a celebration for the end of the summer, an opportunity to gather for fun and fellowship. It’s string, paper and tails taking over the skies.
The event begins at 11 a.m. with kite making in Waban Park. Kites will be flying through the afternoon from noon to 6 p.m. mostly in Ocean Park. It is free and open to all ages.
The idea for this kite festival, though not new, was pulled together late last summer by two friends: Holly Alaimo and Joan Hewson. The two met while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Both like to do things for the Island’s good causes.
Mrs. Alaimo has done many creative projects, from running a gallery in Oak Bluffs to staging social events. Ms. Hewson is a publicist and organizer of events for nonprofit organizations. She recently moved her business, Event Management International, to the Vineyard from Norwalk, Conn.
“Holly had this great idea at the end of last summer,’” said Ms. Hewson, who has organized events such as the Head of the Charles Regatta and programs for the American Cancer Society. “We both very much wanted to support the arts community.”
This year’s Wind Festival proceeds will support Featherstone Center for the Arts and the Oak Bluffs Association.
“I love seeing children flying kites in Ocean Park,” said Mrs. Alaimo. “Every now and then I would talk to someone who would remember the old kite festival that [used to held on the Vineyard]. You hear so much about how they loved it. You hear it from people in their 40s, they were kids back then.
“I mean it is the sweetest thing.”
Martha’s Vineyard Community Services hosted the kite festival in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Tomorrow’s kite flying event has a lot more moving parts compared to the festival held years ago.
There will be recognition for the highest flying kite, the largest and smallest flying kites, the one with the most creative decoration, the best flying “green” kite and the best “green” kite using a special, kite-ready page from the Vineyard Gazette — the newspaper is a sponsor. One tent at Waban Park will be dedicated to the making of kites, with Gazette staff helping participants make kites out of newsprint, string and ribbon. Artisans, other vendors and nonprofit organizations will be on hand too.
There will be a Frisbee course set up at Waban Park that opens at noon.
Registration for all kite-flying youngsters begins at noon, with parades and competitions in different age groups to follow.
A kite parade is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. for the under-12 kite flyers, who will make their way form the kite-making tent at Waban Park to the bandstand at Ocean Park. The next parade, for those aged 12 to 15, leaves Waban at 2:30 p.m. for the judging in Ocean Park.
A kite parade for anyone 16 or more years old will be held at 3:30 p.m. Same route. Additional kite events will be held from 4 to 6 p.m.
Each event — judged on the basis of size, originality and whether they are environmentally friendly — will be held for each of the three age groups in Ocean Park.
Bring your picnic baskets and blankets, and enjoy your gastronomic pleasures with a spectacular photographic opportunity.
“I have heard everybody I meet say they are bringing a picnic,” Mrs. Alaimo said, “and some are bringing hula hoops.”
Windsurfers plan to participate from the beach and there may be kite sailors too.
“We don’t know how far the idea will take off,” Mrs. Alaimo said.
It all begins tonight, with a launch party for the Wind Festival from 6 to 8 p.m. at Featherstone Center for the Arts. Admission is $50. The party is a gala start to what organizers hope will become again an annual event. As part of the party, Island comedian Marty Nadler will be receive the Hot Air Award.
Mrs. Alaimo said: “I think there will be something for everybody. We are committed to having a peaceful end of summer afternoon event.”
One of the original organizers of the Vineyard’s first kite festival, Sherman Goldstein, who with his wife, Susan, runs the Mansion House, has fond memories of those years back in the 1970s when he and others organized the first kite festival at Ocean Park.
“It started with a small idea, back in August of 1973,” Mr. Goldstein said. “We worked with the Oak Bluffs Park Department,” he recalled. There also were others from Community Services and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. “It was a fundraiser for Community Services, an opportunity to introduce Martha’s Vineyard Community Services to the community. It was a wonderful event.
“I still meet people who remember. I don’t think it ever rained. It was blue sky with kites,” Mr. Goldstein said.
Mr. Goldstein said he wishes to send a warm greeting to this year’s festival.
“It is a great idea,” he said. “It is a great use of the park and a great use of the sky.”
For more information, visit online mvwindfestival.com.