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ONDBEAT Kite flyers go high, steal Days at the Dock show

Crossing over the Holden Beach bridge last weekend, people couldn’t help but notice an array of colorful objects hovering above the beach, adding to the already festive atmosphere of the annual Days at the Dock celebration.

On second glance, “swimming” was a more apt description of these jumbo sea critters soaring skyward, seemingly on the loose out of the ocean — a string of multi-hued grinning fish, an equally happy blue crab, two whales and a 90-foot-long one-eyed flying purple people-eater, to cite just a few.

In all, there were 15 to 20 colorful ocean-themed “flyers” floating over the oceanfront last Saturday, garnering plenty of attention from people on the bridge, at the festival across the way and those venturing to the beach for a closer look and photos.

“I hope you took some pictures of those balloons,” said one acquaintance and festivalgoer I bumped into shortly after embarking on my weekend picture-taking assignment at the festival.

I thought the task would be a breeze. It was, after all, nice and sunny Saturday with a perfect wind coming off the ocean, suitable for blowing unidentified objects skyward.

But as I proceeded with my innocuous Nikon work along the rows of booths, one of the crafts vendors ordered me not to take his photo.

“I saw what you did over there,” he snapped, referring to a photo I’d just snapped of some vendor decorations.

That’s sort of why I was there. The Brunswick Beacon had sent me here to shoot assorted pictures and told me not to come back until I had them, clandestine or not.

He deemed it an invasion and intrusion into his craft. He said if photographs of his handiwork got out, he’d be inundated with copycats.

I failed to point out everybody and his brother at the festival had a cell phone with a camera these days. Any interested spy with the gumption could probably snap a shot and he wouldn’t even know it.

But I wasn’t that interested or determined, giving the man his demanded space and focusing on a multitude of other photogenic things, including the upcoming cardboard paddleboard race that was supposed to come across the waterway from Provision Company on the mainland.

I ventured down to the waterway and sat on the dock. I waited and waited, dangling my feet in the water and shooting photos of that old shipwreck nobody can clean up as well as a couple of marsh hens who said they didn’t mind.

After about 30 minutes of waiting, I finally asked a man sitting in his boat when the race was going to happen. He said it had already taken place, about 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled 2 p.m. time.

Oh, great.

With time ticking by, those flying objects were my last hope.

I ventured over to the beach, soon meeting up with their instigators, John “The Kite Guy” McEntire and Dave Harsant, who love to fly the monstrous ripstop nylon kites as a hobby.

They garner more attention than just about anybody. They take part in a kite exhibition every November at Fort Fisher. They don’t like to tell their wives exactly how much they spend on their humongous high-flying hobby, importing some of the kites from New Zealand.

They like to invite kids of all ages — including me — to try their hand at flying the kites, which are expertly anchored in the sand.

They like to see the transformation when someone who might be having a bad day does a complete one-eighty upon seeing their sea creatures over the beach.

They’ll even let you take their photo.

Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.