Thom Shanken, 56, of Seneca Falls, N.Y. (pop. 9,040), doesn’t know exactly how many kites he owns, but he enjoys every one for the pleasure they bring on a breezy day.
“There are so many ways to enjoy kites: designing them, making them, flying them,” says Shanken, a county coroner by day and a kite enthusiast in his leisure time.
One of the best things about Shanken’s hobby is how it helps him connect with other kite lovers, from his daughter Ashton, 10, who already can handle a multiline kite, to his young-at-heart friends at the New York Kite Enthusiasts club. Kites offer something for everyone, he says.
What can kites offer you? Here are five good reasons to go fly a kite:
- It’s educational. For Shanken, researching antique kites has led to exploring a second passion: history. Kites also can serve as a springboard for learning about science, art and other cultures.
- It’s healthy. Kite flying gets you outdoors, making the activity a beneficial pastime and stress-buster. “It’s a very relaxing thing to just zone out and watch your kite,” says Todd Little, 53, a psychiatric nurse and champion kite maker in Camp Hill, Pa. (pop. 7,888).
- It’s environmentally benign. Because kites are wind-powered, no batteries or electrical cords are required.
- It’s inexpensive. Avoid flimsy plastic kites, advises Barbara Meyer of Maple Grove, Minn. (pop. 61,567), former president of the American Kitefliers Association. You can buy a durable cloth kite for under $20, she says.
- It’s artistic. “For me, building kites is a creative outlet,” Little says. Want to build your own kite? Visit nationalkitemonth.org/plans for free kite-making instructions.