Haulover Beach Kite Day: Cuban Tradition Meets Modern Construction

Categories: Culture
Dan Ward, Skyward Kites
Flying squids, aliens, and bears, oh my.
There's something about kites that takes you back to the days of Twinkies, cheese balls, and Hi-C juice boxes, where the biggest worry on your mind was not having enough time to run around barefoot on the grass. Those were the days.

Well, you can't turn the clock back, but you can reminiscence the good ol' days of kite flying at Haulover Beach Park's Kite Day Kite Festival.

The festival will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this Sunday with a "Kites of the Caribbean" theme. Along with the traditional 150-foot rainbow, 100-foot squid, and 30-foot scuba diver, flags from Cuba, Haiti, and Trinidad, to name a few, will be flown over the shores of the Atlantic.

Watching these kites soar hundreds of feet over the shore is a marvel in itself. But there's more to Kite Day than simple physics. For some Miamians, the kites are an expression of creativity and ethnic culture.

Dan Ward, Skyward Kites
Dan Ward of Skyward Kites, the company behind Kite Day, has been flying and making kites for about 40 years. He's used to spending days on end constructing his most elaborate flying attractions.

"[Kites with] a lot of art, work, and detail take, like, a week," Ward said.

The process consists of having a pattern to work with, fabric, string, and patience. Lots of it. Ward uses rip-stop nylon, which is a very light and strong fabric that is difficult to tear. It's the same material used for sailboats and parachutes.

He lays the fabric across the floor, takes measurements, cuts the pieces, rolls them out, and sews them. "[I] lay them on top of each other where they need to go, and stitch them together. It's much like making a pair of pants."

Unlike the kite-making ways of the States, traditional Cuban kites are made a bit differently; the main difference lies in the materials. Carlos Herrera, who will be flying the Cuban flag this year said that Cuban kites are made with more accessible materials like Chinese-cut paper, or papel de China, and wooden sticks.

After gathering the materials, Herrera cuts the paper in different patterns and assembles them together using string.

Although Herrera has been flying kites in Miami for about 12 years, he was first exposed to them as a child in Cuba by his neighbor.

"He didn't let anyone in and when you would go in to see it, you couldn't talk, only look," said Herrera in his native Spanish. "So I would sit down and learn from him, and then I would sell them."

Location Info


Haulover Beach Park

10800 Collins Ave., North Miami Beach, FL

Category: General

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