The very proud writer is at the other end of this kite string at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. Mikayla Patel / The Forecaster

With the summer upon us, we’re all looking for fun ways to enjoy the warmer weather and get outside. In line with this mission, I set out to rediscover something I enjoyed as a child but haven’t done since – kite flying.

The most committed kite flyers in the area tend to flock to Bug Light Park in South Portland, where the Nor’Easters kite club hosts events and flying sessions throughout the year. Tony Otis, a Portland kite maker and club member, gave me some guidance as a returning beginner.

Otis picked up kite flying in the 1970s because “I remembered what it was like to throw a kite up in the air” as a kid, he said. “It brings me back to an age that was just a whole lot better all the way around.”

Otis Contributed / Nor’Easters

“As a kid in the 50s and 60s, play was important,” he said. “I’m retired now, and play has become more important to me, and kites provide exactly what I’m looking for.”

Otis provided me with what I was looking for, a review of the basics.

When scoping out a place to fly, safety is the biggest priority, Otis told me. Power lines, buildings or active traffic can pose hazards, so look for wide, open spaces free of trees or other structures that block the wind. Bug Light Park is a good, safe site, he said, as is Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Payson Park in Portland and Crescent Beach State Park and Pine Point in Scarborough.


He recommends flying kites with a friend or a group of friends to up the fun factor, and he also told me to keep it simple at first.

“Stick with kite shapes that fly well instead of trying to get fancy,” he said. A delta-shaped kite, ideally with a wingspan of 6 to 7 feet, is a good starter kite for beginners.

Kite maker Tony Otis flies one of his own at Bug Light Park in South Portland. Contributed / Nor’Easters

I went in search of a kite. After Target, Walmart and Michael’s told me they only sell them online, I popped into Treehouse Toys in Portland’s Old Port, which had a few styles to choose from.

I picked out a delta kite, as Otis advised. A pink and blue kite adorned with a half unicorn, half mermaid creature, it was a fun choice to be sure.

With my new kite in hand, I arrived at Bug Light Park. It was a nice day, but the air was still. After determining there was no way I’d get my kite in the air on the flat Bug Light field, I decided to give Fort Williams a shot, hoping that its elevation and steep ocean cliffs meant a better chance of wind.

I was relieved to find the wind was in fact blowing at Fort Williams and I set myself up on a hillside. I was a little embarrassed at first as an adult attempting to get her unicorn kite into the air on a Thursday afternoon as a nearby family had a picnic and looked over every so often to see how I was faring. But I was dedicated to my goal.


I held my kite up into the air, letting it go when I felt a big gust of wind. It faltered and fell my first couple tries, but the timing of when I released it seemed to make all the difference. Once I adjusted my technique, the kite was carried up and away and I was looking up at it, beaming with pride.

When the wind died down a bit, I’d walk with it to help it stay up or I’d tighten the string. I got better at adjusting my grip and maneuvering the kite to stay in the air longer. The higher I could get the kite to go, the prouder I felt.

I understood the feeling Otis had been talking about. I was excited and I felt a sense of accomplishment in getting the kite to fly. I can see how one could become addicted to catching the wind and seeing how long the kite could stay aloft. My longest duration was likely only a couple minutes, but I’d eagerly pick it up to try again. Those moments of stillness between gusts, as I held my kite and waited for the next one, allowed me to look out over the ocean and watch the waves come in.

I left, with the song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from “Mary Poppins” stuck in my head, determined to plan some summer kite flying outings with a friend or two.

For more information on Nor’Easters kite club or to check their schedule of events, visit their website at Contact Otis at to check in about when kite flyers will be out at Bug Light Park.

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