Fun soars above Pacheco Pass at Kite Day

Dozens at Pacheco State Park took advantage of gusty winds over Pacheco Pass on Saturday for the 13th annual Family Kite Day.

About 90 people from Los Banos, Atwater, Hollister and other cities brought a kite from home or made one on the spot from paper, tape and string.

“If it was last weekend, it would have been too windy,” said park ranger Betty Wong on Saturday. “Traditionally, we have it on Father’s Day weekend.”

Nicholas Bunyard came with his family and a jet kite in tow.

“I haven’t flown my kite in a year,” he said, as he attempted to get it aloft.

Norma Keeley, of Los Banos, was with her husband, son and her son’s baby sitter.

“It’s a way to get out, get some sunshine and socialize,” Keeley said.

She said she hopes Family Kite Day grows because it could be of economic benefit to Los Banos as people pass through on their way to the event.

Jennifer Morgan, a state park interpreter, has organized Family Kite Day since its inception. Morgan was replete with prizes for the winners of the bubble-gum-blowing and blueberry-pie-eating contests. A handful of tables displayed animal pelts and do-it-yourself kites as well as educational materials on water preservation and safety. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials and Smokey Bear attended the event.

Pacheco State Park, formed 17 years ago, is part of the California State Parks system, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

“We are all very proud,” Morgan said. “We had a booth at the Merced County Spring Fair this year to promote it.”

Morgan and other officials at Pacheco State Park organize events such as Family Kite Day to encourage people to use the park more. It’s an ideal event for the park’s March through October “wind season.”

Jeremy Fallquist said it was his first time attending but won’t likely be his last.

“My kids are totally into the electronics, video games, but they’re out here and we’re having fun,” Fallquist said.