A day in the life: Kitty Hawk Kites Kids Day

Written by: Emma Turnbull, Marketing Intern

One of my biggest jobs as an events crew member is helping run Kids Days each week at our various locations. This aspect of the job is particularly fun for a couple reasons. First, I have some degree of freedom to shape these events into what I want them to be. Also, once the grunt work of set-up is done, I get to spend the day playing with toys, making crafts, and talking to children about everything from their vacations to their families, their pets, superheroes, and other childhood randomness. Basically I get to be a kid again for a few hours. While there’s honestly no “typical” day on the job, here’s a taste of what a Kids Day could look like.

Wednesday is the middle of the week, hump day, and most importantly Nags Head Kids Day! Kids Day at our flagship store in Jockey’s Ridge Crossing is typically the most crowded, highest energy event of the week, and in my humble opinion, a big bundle of fun. It’s an early day, but totally worth it to bring joy of a Kitty Hawk Kites Experience to so many kiddos.

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Toy Demos with Chip

I’ll usually start my day at the office, finishing up some last second preparations. Depending on the day and the week, this could mean anything from printing flyers for upcoming events, restocking crafts that have been used up, or loading the van with any and all toys and games to entertain the masses.

Next comes set-up. Not surprisingly, this is the least exciting aspect of the day, but that’s not to say it isn’t completely essential to the success of Kids Day. First, the tent canopies and tables go up, followed by the smaller objects like pamphlets, flyers, crafting materials, and toys. The final step is making our set up look spiffy. We go for a “family friendly and lots of fun” feel. It features display kites hanging up, numerous games spread across the lawn, stations for face painting by the members of The Lost Colony cast and tie dying by Life on a Sandbar, and a table filled with enough toys and bubbles to entertain a bus full of rowdy school children.

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Scaling the Rock Wall in Kitty Hawk Kites

After set-up, it’s not long until the real fun begins. By 10:00am on the dot (sometimes even earlier), our tables are surrounded by families eagerly anticipating whatever fun in the sun (or shade) we can offer them. One of the coolest and most unique things about the Kids Days is that I’ve found they really do appeal to kids of all ages. The littlest ones get endless delight from having their faces painted, chasing around edible bubbles (yes, you read that correctly… candy bubbles do exist… and we sell them!), and coloring and assembling their very own kites. The slightly older crowd enjoy trying their hand at the skill toys and games like Kan Jam, and every adventurous teenager finds it hard to resist the chance to ride the mechanical shark. Plus, the appeal of tie dying, wax hands, an indoor rock wall, and a splash blaster (think of a reverse dunk tank, where the water sprays up at you) transcends age.

As an outdoor event, Kids Days are heavily dependent on weather. Rain or shine, the show will go on, but even in the few short weeks I’ve been here, I’ve seen how the weather refuses to be ignored. Kite flying in particular can be challenging in anything besides a perfect breeze. That being said, no matter what the conditions, barring a hurricane-level squall, we will find a way to have fun for Kids Day; it just becomes a question of what type of fun the weather will allow. If it’s overcast, sprinkling rain, and 70 degrees, the Splash Blaster probably looks a lot less appealing. But learning how to use juggling sticks under the shelter of a canopy, or designing and coloring your very own kite to take out on the next nice day are just as fun as ever.

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Wax Hands have been a Kids Day favorite this year!

Just like all the other new experiences Kitty Hawk Kites has provided, Kids Days have brought a combination of fun and learning. And while there can be some stressful moments when a rush of 15 children and their families all show up at the same time wanting to try 10 different activities, I have just as much fun with Kids Days as the kids do. How could you not have a great time with a job that involves 4 hours of crafts, demoing toys, and playing games with a bunch of happy, excited vacationers?

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Stanley the bucking Shark in Kitty Hawk Surf Company is always a huge laugh

After a few hours of socializing, entertaining, and teaching, we wrap up Kids Day. Everything gets broken down and packed back up into the van, and I return to the office for a few more hours of work before the day officially ends. Tiredness from a day out in the heat sets in, as does pride about a successful event, and excitement to do it all again next week. Kitty Hawk Kites Kids Days are offered weekly at select locations along the beach.

You can come play with us on Tuesdays at the Kitty Hawk Kites in Avon from 10am – 12pm, Waves Village Watersports Resort from 3pm – 5pm, and Kitty Hawk Kites in Monteray Plaza in Corolla from 2pm – 4pm and on Wednesdays at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing from 10am – 2pm, and Kitty Hawk Kites in Hatteras Landing from 2pm – 4pm. Information on all of our events including kids day can be found at kittyhawk.com/events.

A day in the life: The 34th Annual Rogallo Kite Festival

Written by: Emma Turnbull- 2016 Marketing Intern

It was a beautiful weekend for the 34th Annual Rogallo Kite Festival! Typical with any kite festival, the wind was not completely cooperative (too light on Friday and too strong on Saturday and Sunday), but it was good enough to get the kites up and give everybody an awesome scene to admire atop Jockey’s Ridge.

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Rogallo Fest ran on Dunkin’


This was my first kite festival as a Kitty Hawk Kites marketing intern, and I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when the weekend began. I obviously knew we’d be flying some kites, but I didn’t realize just how massive and impressive they’d be. For instance, our octopus, affectionately dubbed Squiggs, is 100 feet long! As you can imagine, trying to launch and take down Squiggs in strong wind was a bit of a challenge. There were even a couple times it took 5 people to wrangle him. Once he got under control though, he was quite a sight to see, with his huge yellow body and his tentacles flapping around in the clear blue sky. A couple other personal favorites of mine were our giant purple eel and the rainbow koi fish, which both slithered around in the air to the point where they looked like they were swimming against the blue sky. It’s amazing how much of a show can be put on by a bit of cloth, so strong line, and a few poles.

Squiggs

Squiggs, the 100ft Octopus- a personal favorite.


Now, I’m by no means an expert yet, but this weekend taught me a lot and gave me a sneak peek into the world of kite flying. There’s a lot that goes into flying such huge kites. You don’t just need the kite and a line; you need the kite, bridle, line set, carabiner, and sand anchor, and a bit of expert know-how. I learned about the safety when flying large kites, how to tie a larks head, and daisy chain just to name a few of my new skills. Basically, there’s a lot more that goes into flying show kites than I could have ever imagined.

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Not a bad view


As an event crew member, my weekend consisted of a combination of physical labor, interacting with children, and teaching people about kites. To be fair, I didn’t shoulder a huge portion of the physical labor given my small size and utter lack of muscles, but that’s not to say I didn’t pitch in whenever and however I could. One of the highlights for me was set up Saturday morning, when I was helping John Harris, owner and founder of Kitty Hawk Kites, prepare and launch numerous large kites. It was surreal to be able to learn so much from a man who is such an expert in the field.

RevSpinIn addition to the eye catching show kites, visible from across the sound in Manteo, the Rogallo Kite Festival included free stunt kite lessons, and a Revolution Kite Competition. I spent much of my time tending to the larger kites and unfortunately didn’t get to take a lesson, but I did get to talk to many stunt kite flyers, from visitors trying it out for the first time to experienced flyers who travel the country showing of their skills. Watching the performances from afar, the twirls, spins, dives, and other tricks executed but the Revolutions and other stunt kites were every bit as impressive and transfixing as Squiggs’ tentacles in their own way. I look forward to trying it out for myself at the next festival in July!

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Revolution Invitation Winners with Rev Rep, Lolly Hadziki, and John Harris


Between digging holes for anchors, talking to curious vacationers on Jockey’s Ridge, and relaunching kites that the wind took down, the days actually sped by. There’s no denying it was hard work, and being out in the sun for 3 full days certainly took its toll. (I have the awkward suntan/burn lines to prove it). There were moments I just wanted to stop what I was doing, lie down, and fall asleep on the spot. But for every funk, there was also a moment equally as funny or inspiring or beautiful to break me out of it. Like the moment a huge kite would get launched and I would just watch it float upward so peacefully into the bright blue sky. Or seeing a kid’s face light up as they watched the koi fish “swimming” through the air. Or honestly just taking a step back and taking in the whole panorama: a beautiful sunny day on the sand dunes with a bunch of colorful kites floating overhead and the ocean in the distance. I now understand peoples’ fascination with kites a whole lot better.

If you missed the Rogallo Festival, don’t fret… The Wright Kite Festival hosted at The Wright Brothers’ National Memorial July 16-17 will feature many of the same show kites (possibly even a few more), free stunt kite lessons, and kite making workshops for the kids. You may also check out this awesome Rogallo Festival recap video below:

Cold Stunned Sea Turtles Find Help in OBX

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Green sea turtles rehabilitating from cold shock at Roanoke Island Aquarium. Photo K. Wilkins Photography

Every once in a while an event comes along and it’s a reminder of how amazing the people who live on the Outer Banks are. That’s the case with a recent spate of cold stunned sea turtles.

Over 340 turtles have been rescued from the beaches of Hatteras Island over the past week. Mostly green turtles, with a few Kemps Ridleys and loggerhead in the mix, it is for North Carolina an unprecedented event.

According to experts in the field, the most likely cause was an abnormally warm December with plummeting temperatures earlier this week.

The turtles will die unless they are rehabilitated and that’s where the can-do and volunteer spirit of the Outer Banks has come in to play.

Volunteers with N.E.S.T. (Network for Endangered Sea Turtles) and National Park Service employees have been combing the beach looking for turtles.

The turtles are taken to Cape Hatteras Secondary School, and then transported to the STAR Center at the Roanoke Island Aquarium. The STAR Center is a sea turtle rehab facility.

No one has ever seen anything like this and every where you look at the center, buckets and bins are filled with cold stunned turtles regaining their strength. Volunteers are constantly walking among the turtles, cleaning the water, feeding them and making sure they are recovering.

One of the most amazing facts is that only six have been lost so far.

The first batch of 85 has already been sent to Florida to be released in warm waters. Even that took a huge cooperative effort, from Fish and Wildlife supplying a truck for transportation to the permits that are required from every state along the route. According to the folks at the Aquarium the cooperation from all agencies has been absolutely outstanding.

The next batch of 85 turtles should be at the Fort Macon, NC Coast Guard Station by Monday. The Coast Guard has agreed to take the turtles to the Gulf Stream to release them.

A Great 2015-A Better 2016 on Tap

Scene from 2015 Hang Gliding Spectacular.

Scene from 2015 Hang Gliding Spectacular.

2015 was an amazing year on the Outer Banks and for Kitty Hawk Kites. We can’t thank all the wonderful customers who stopped by our stores and made it one of the best years we’ve ever had.

We’ve been adding new experiences—one of our favorites is the replica of the Wright Brothers 1902 glider that is available for flight. Pilots—check this one out. A living history adventure, we’re proud to offer this truly unique flight opportunity.

More new things we started dong this past year—Kitty Hawk Kites sponsored our first ever BrewTag, proving conclusively that beer kegs can fly . . . albeit not well. We are reserving judgment on how well beer can fly, though. After looking over the technical backgrounds of the entrants in the initial competition, there may be room for improvement over the current world BrewTag flight distance of 20’9”.

With Easter coming so early this year—March 27—our first big event is even earlier than usual. Our “Fly into Spring & Easter Eggstravaganza” is that weekend so be sure to check out all the fun.

We’re still finalizing some of the details on our event calendar, but here’s a good start on some of the amazing things we have scheduled for 2016.

Fly into Spring & Easter Eggstravaganza

KHKebunny

Mar 25, 2016 – Mar 26, 2016

Kitty Hawk Kites will be starting off the 2014 season with the annual “Fly into Spring & Easter Eggstravaganza!” Come join the Kitty Hawk Kites crew at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing to celebrate the start of a new season on the Outer Banks.

 

44th Annual Hang Gliding Spectacular

Coming in for a landing at the 2014 Hang Gliding Spectacular

May 13, 2016 – May 16, 2016

Kitty Hawk Kites is proud to announce the 2016 Hang Gliding Spectacular and Air Show! Join professional hang gliders, fans, and families at Jockey’s Ridge State Park for this Outer Banks tradition. This event is the longest running hang gliding competition in the world!

 

Rogallo Kite Festival

Life-sized blue whale kite in flight.

Jun 10, 2016 – Jun 12, 2016

Francis Rogallo was a NASA scientists and inventor of the flexible wing. His inventions started the sport of hang gliding and his designs have carried over into the stunt kites, power kites, and hang gliders that are flown today. We invite you to join us and raise a kite at the 33rd Annual Rogallo Kite Festival!

Outer Banks Pirate Festival

Slash, jab, parry. Instructions in pirate sword techniques.

Aug 10, 2016 – Aug 11, 2016

Get ready for a swashbucklin’ good time as Kitty Hawk Kites hosts the Outer Banks Pirate Festival. Pirates of the Outer Banks and their friends will be camped out at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing. Learn the vast history of pirates on the OBX, and participate in Scalawag school for the little ones to see if they have what it take to be a part of Blackbeards’ Crew!

BrewTag

First BrewTag launch of the day. The Kitty Hawk Kites glider established a new BrewTag world record of 20', soon to be shattered by Loonies on Tab.

October 22

Kegs will fly and everyone will have a great time. Enter your team early for the best chance to win. Or just spend the day hanging out and sampling some of the finest beer around and listening to great music.

Hangin’ With Santa/Kites With Lights

Santa Claus greeting a family at Kitty Hawk Kites.

November 25, 26

Look for Santa to stop by on Friday and Saturday with Kites with Lights filling the evening sky over Jockey’s Ridge State Park after sunset on Saturday. This is one of our oldest events and we really look forward to it every year.

A couple more events that we’re still putting the final touches on. We’ll keep you posted.

The Wright Kite Festival-Held every year at the Wright Brothers Memorial in July

Outer Banks Watermelon Festival-Games, music, food, and LOTS of watermelon. Tons of watermelon competitions including seed spitting. An August Event.

31st Annual Outer Banks Stunt Kite Competition-A regional kite flying competition, organized by the Eastern League Sport Kite Association, features some of the top competitive kite fliers in the nation, as well as a massive display of show kites, stunt and power kite demonstrations and lessons, kite making activities for the kids. Usually in September

A Kitty Hawk Kites Christmas Wish

Headline from Wilmington, NC paper last time there was an Outer Banks white Christmas. Source, National Weather Service.

Headline from Wilmington, NC paper last time there was an Outer Banks white Christmas. Source, National Weather Service.

We don’t get white Christmases very often on the Outer Banks. In fact, they’re almost as rare as a confirmed sighting of Santa Claus coming down a chimney. We checked the records and the last time there was snow at Christmas around here was 1989, and that was a record breaking storm that brought with it single digit temperatures.

That seems to be more than a once in a lifetime event. After a an evening of research we finally found a reference that said the last time before the 1989 storm that there was a white Outer Bank Christmas was 1874. Figuring one white Christmas every 115 years, we’ll gas up the snow plows in the year 2104.

Nonetheless, the spirit of Christmas if very much alive and well on the Outer Banks. Our Kitty Hawk Kites stores are always stocked full of lots of fun stuff for kids, and a lot of what makes the holidays so special is watching the joy on a child’s face when a special gift is opened.

Of course it’s more than that, because what the kids represent is family, tradition and the love that binds generations together. Within that joy a child feels in getting a special gift is a lesson about the joy of giving, for mirrored in the child’s delight are the emotions the parents feel in giving that gift. It’s not a lesson an eight year old would know, it is one that an 18 year old will remember.

The Outer Banks at Christmas is a remarkable place—a place where family, tradition and a wonderful community spirit come together to create the best of lasting memories.

It is with that hope that all of your Christmas memories for this year and every year will be the best that the Kitty Hawk Kites family of employees wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.