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Port Lavaca flies kites for good cause

By JR Ortega
April 16, 2011 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated April 15, 2011 at 11:16 p.m.

Richard Vogel, 70, of Grinnell, Iowa, flys his two-line sport kite at Red Cross Kite Fest benefit on Saturday at the Bay Front Peninsula Park in Port Lavaca.

PORT LAVACA - Luis Cruz stared up.

Way up - to the sky.

There, dancing in the foreground of a bright blue beach sky, was his niece's kite, fluttering in the continuous gust of wind at Port Lavaca's first Kite Fest.

The festival took flight from the mind of Jodi Lewis, a Volunteer in Services to America with Americorps, and was designed to raise funds and awareness for the American Red Cross Crossroads Chapter satellite office in Calhoun County.

But for Cruz, it was a day down memory lane.

"I used to make them a lot as a child," he said.

Cruz was born and raised in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands until he was 13 years old.

He's lived in Port Lavaca for 32 years.

"Kites, tops and marbles - that's what we had," he said about his childhood.

Cruz would even build kites and, though many of them ended up tangled in power lines, he kept at it.

He even created one for the festival, but his niece, Idalia Cruz, 10, chose another one from his collection.

She loves birds, so naturally she went with the one designed with two whooping cranes.

At the sound of a whistle, Idalia threw her kite up and began unraveling the thin thread.

Though the kite crashed into the ground of the Bayfront Peninsula on her first try, her uncle taught her what he knew and on a second attempt, she successfully made it skyward.

"It's kind of fun," she said as she tried to control her kite from being tugged too hard by the wind. "You get to see all the other kites in the air, too."

The festival is exactly what Lewis had expected.

Aside from the kites, other nonprofit organizations had booths out on the peninsula, including the YMCA and Habitat for Humanity.

The weekend also was part of National Volunteerism week, Lewis said.

The idea works well because Port Lavaca is always windy, and it's an event geared toward family fun, which Lewis feels there isn't enough of.

"This is something (an idea) I could leave behind after my years with VISTA," she said.

Cruz loves the idea about getting the family outdoors, he said.

This may be the first, but it doesn't look like the last, Lewis said.

"They're already talking about Kite Fest 2012," she said.

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