Wind blows off the Sacramento River, giving life to the dancing flags, windsocks and ornaments decorating the front of Old City Kites.
People stand around the kite store in Old Sacramento, eating ice cream, watching the twirling whirligigs and whatnots. European and Latin American tourists slowly saunter by. They point out interesting elements of antiquity, snap a photo and snap at their children to pay attention.
Inside Old City Kites, there is organized chaos. Fighter kites clutter the ceiling. Box kites, neon and rainbow striped gliders and parafoils and fighter kites can be found alongside innumerable delta-shaped kites and intricate three-dimensional polygon kites that fill the store's high ceiling. There are a 1,000-square-foot panda kite and a 100-foot-long dragon.
Local customers and tourists leaf through the kites. Windsocks, flags and lawn ornaments hang on the wall.
Amid the strategically placed clutter are the store owners, Ann and Anwar Khan.
AnnKhan grew up in Sacramento and she mostly tends to customers from behind the register. Anwar Khan grew up in Pakistan and moved to America about 30 years ago when he was 25 years old.
He hustles around the shop getting work done and stops to ask serious customers if they need any help, or advice.
"Kites are very popular in Pakistan the paper fighter kite," said Anwar.
"Pakistan, or Indian and Afghan fighters, all have slight differences in their kite and form," Ann offered.
Anwar grew up flying and making kites. He said people of all ages fly the fight-kites.
"You learn good skill early and hope to be the best."
He said the most important thing when flying a kite is the wind. With a 7 to 15 mph wind, anyone can fly any kite. "It is excellent wind for small, or big kite."
It is much harder to fly a kite in extreme wind, according to Anwar, and you end up "kite wrestling." Ultra-light wind conditions can also require the talents of expert fliers.
A calm, steady wind is best. Even in some seemingly open areas, trees around the perimeter will obscure the path of wind and lead to erratic patterns of wind flow.
There are a number of great kite-flying areas in Sacramento. A few that Ann and Anwar recommend: Sutter's Landing, Natomas Community Center, Roseville Kaseberg Park and Mather Regional Park.
If you feel like getting out of town, there are amazing spots that are crowded with experts. The most popular places are in the Bay Area, near San Francisco and Berkeley. Just a few: Ocean Beach, the Benicia waterfront, Martinez waterfront. Marina Green is highly recommended, and Berkeley Marina is most popular.
Locals, however, don't need to go any farther than Kokomo Park in Natomas.
There, one may easily fly a rectangular, iridescent, single-line kite 500 feet up into the air.
That's what 7-year-olds Edison Zhang and Justin Chu did recently on a breezy Sunday afternoon. They used every centimeter of a 300-meter spool of kite string to make a big, neon-green and fuchsia trapezoidal kite look like a speck in the ozone.
They were having a blast.
"It's so high! It's way up there," Edison said. " It's pulling me."
"It looks so tiny," said Justin. "It's bigger than a whole building; it's bigger than a T-rex; it's bigger than a brachiosaurus!"
On their first try, the kite got 20 feet away and then did a nosedive into a small tree. Hanging in there, it had picked up some wind and blown in front of a slow-moving car. An adult grabbed it, pulled the string out of the tree and gave it back.
But as the boys watched their kite soar, Justin said, "I wish I could be in space. I wish I could be that high."