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Kite fliers discover soaring spirits

Glendale's 'kite whisperer' to demonstrate his unique skills at festival

Sept. 6, 2010

Veterans Park on Milwaukee's lakefront will become an international Mecca of kite flying this weekend, and a Glendale man known as the "kite whisperer" is among the enthusiasts who will be on hand to show off their skills and talk about thrill of taking to the skies.

The 32nd annual Don Jacobs Toyota Frank Mots International Kite Festival, which runs Saturday and Sunday, will feature stunt kite fliers, an exhibition of 600 fliers launching their kites at once and a children's kiting competition.

The festival offers something for everyone, said Scott Fisher, organizer of the event. If you don't have a kite or don't want to fly, you can watch the professionals.

"Some people may just want to come down and watch the giant kites," Fisher said.

One of those kites is an octopus that's 140 feet long, 50 feet wide and it takes 4,000-pound line to hold it down. The kite is the length of three school buses. Because of its size, it has to be raised and launched by a smaller kite, similar to the way the space shuttle is launched by a giant rocket.

A patient teacher

Making his annual appearance at the festival will be Brett Williams, who has taught hundreds of people - if not thousands - the finer points of navigating a kite.

Williams first discovered the hobby when he was about 4 years old after his mother took him to Veterans Park to meet Frank Mots, a kite lover who would hang out at the lakefront, make kites and give them to kids. He started many of the region's kite lovers on their path.

Later, Williams' mother got him hooked on stunt kites.

"During a trip to Florida, my mother found someone who makes them and got me hooked on it. I came back to Veterans Park and discovered a whole new kite community. I've been affiliated with this group ever since and it's going on 15 years now," Williams said.

A special talent

"I learned early on that people wanted to learn how to fly, so I started teaching," he explained. "From my teaching, people began to call me 'kite whisperer' because I seem to be able to fly kites in wind conditions that hardly anybody else could," he said.

The nick name stuck.

Although Williams loves freedom and "hanging" on the wind, a big part of the allure for him is showcasing his skills.

"I am a bit of a showoff. That started since my early days driving a tour bus. As you sit in front of everyone, you're the center of attention and you adapt to that very quickly," Williams said.

During the Mots Festival, Williams estimates he will give between 100 and 150 lessons to those wanting to learn how to fly stunt kites.

All about the kids

What makes a good teacher of kite flying?

"Incredible patience, a love of the sport, a love of working with people - particularly young people. I love getting kids involved in it," Williams said.

"If I can take a young child and get their eyes all bug-eyed about kite flying, the chances are they're not going to have the time or money to get involved in drugs," he said. "Besides, people who get involved in kite flying aren't typically those types of people. They're very clean, outdoors-minded people. It's a very healthy environment for an entire family."

The teacher's best advice?

"Relax and feel the kite. Don't get real tense about it, let the kite fly and enjoy yourself. That's what kiting is all about: fun. It's not supposed to be work."

FYI

WHAT: The Don Jacobs Toyota Frank Mots International Kite Festival

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

WHERE: Veterans Park on Milwaukee's lakefront

ADMISSION: Free

MORE INFO: Call (414) 425.8002 or visit thegiftofwings.com

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