Kite Festival Fun
It was truly a privilege to attend the El Cocal Kite Festival. El Cocal, of all the communities GVI Quepos works in, struggles the most with poverty, crime, drugs, and a lack of a sense of community. Yet every year, the whole community comes together to hold this wonderful event. Planning began well in advance, with fundraisers and meetings set up early in the year. A local man holds workshops with the students in the school every year, showing them how to create their own kites. The children were enormously proud of their colorful and varied creations. We also helped them draw a huge banner to advertise the event, which we hung at the main entrance to El Cocal.
By seven o’clock on the day of the festival, volunteers were congregating on the El Cocal beach to begin setting up. We helped them string up balloons, mark off distances for the race, and set out food. Local mothers cooked traditional Costa Rican dishes to sell to raise money. One El Cocal father chipped in as well, grilling delicious skewers over an open grill. Children and parents began to filter in. The students raced around the beach, their beautiful kites bobbing in the air behind them. Street vendors set up their carts. Parents pitched in with setting up or took turns pulling kites down from trees. The day formally kicked off with the children’s race, a 400-500 meter sprint up and down the beach. The winners did a dance of triumph before flopping onto the sand.
The older men and women lined up for a more serious race along the length of the El Cocal beach. Friends and family stood by to cheer them on. More people began casting their kites into the air. Children and parents alike wandered the beach, staring up at the bright toys fluttering in the wind. Event organizers corralled them into a formal competition, pitting them against each other to see who could fly their kite the highest. The day was capped off when they crowned “King and Queen of the Kite Festival.” The King and Queen were escorted through an archway hung with balloons and applauded by the gathered attendees. Trophies were awarded to everyone who had won a contest or a race. Local parents packed up leftover food, volunteers put away chairs and tables, children carefully coiled their kites’ strings, and everyone went home happy and fulfilled after a long and exciting day.
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