Dan’s Papers Kite Fly Returns August 8: Build Your Kites Now

Dan's Papers Kite Fly is back!
The Dan’s Papers Kite Fly is back!
Ariel Skelley

The Dan’s Papers Kite Fly is coming. You’ll find it from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on the beach at Sagaponack on Sunday, August 8.

It’s easy to get to. Just head south on Sagg Main from the post office and look up in the sky off in the distance in front of you. Hundreds of kites will be up there already because some of the folks come a little early and like to get a head start. Head for the kites.

Up closer, you should be able to follow the kite strings down if the sun is shining a certain way. The strings lead to just beyond the dunes and to the beach itself. There’s stuff going on there. It’s the 43rd running of the annual Dan’s Papers Kite Fly at Sagg Main Beach. And you and your family are invited to join. No charge.

What’s the draw? Twelve prizes will be awarded: highest flying, most newsworthy, most colorful, smallest, scariest, funniest, kite with the longest tail, oldest kite flier, most patriotic, most beautiful, best homemade kite, and if you’ve read this far, you know you’d better get started. You and your kids will need string, glue, balsa wood, paints and a whole lot of other things to make an original kite (that actually flies.)

Registration? Nope! Just park, walk out to the beach and get your kite up—a specially homemade one or a store-bought one. (The homemade ones have a better shot at a prize).

But don’t get me wrong. Store-bought kites can look pretty good, too. And part of the thrill of this event is to join a great herd in the sky for a little while. (It feels good.)

Kite judging begins with the blowing of a bullhorn from flight command (two banquet tables side by side on the beach with employees of Dan’s Papers giving everybody who shows up some kind of gift.) And it ends with the second blowing of the bullhorn announcing the end of judging.

In the interim, everyone will be entertained by Jim Turner and his bluegrass band, people face painting all the kids and various other characters. Anyone out there know of a magician with a black cape and cane who’d like to be part of this?

Anyway, winners are tapped on the shoulder at the end and told to come to flight command for the prize or a certificate to take to merchants who are offering the prizes.

And the decisions of the judges are final. These are highly trained, specially selected individuals with master’s degrees and Ph.D.s in kite judging. Wearing the same beach garb that the kite fliers themselves wear, they wander among the entrants unnoticed for 45 minutes looking for who’s at the end of the string so they can tap them on the shoulder when the judging ends. Let them do their jobs.

Between the sea spray, the sand, the surf and the sun, it will be a wonderful day.

Dan's Kite Fly 2019
Dan’s Kite Fly 2019, Photo: Barbara Lassen

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Here’s a bit of history about how the Dan’s Papers Kite Fly came to be. In 1978, you needed a sticker to park at the beach. Every town and village had stickers so cars could be easily noticed. There were red ones for certain municipalities and blue ones for another, pink ones for a village beach and tan ones for another. Each sticker cost money. And there were certain beaches that were now off limits to people not from that village or town. It tended to drive people crazy because before this time you were welcome to park anywhere you wanted for free.

There was, however, one beach where no stickers were required. It was Peters Pond Beach in Sagaponack and because there was a dispute about the ownership, a potholed, rutted-dirt Peters Pond Road went straight down to the beach and if you took it, nobody would bother you.

Because of this, we thought it a perfect spot to invite everybody free of charge to an event with no restrictions and no admission fees, just like before. Thus the Kite Fly.

About 10 years into the annual event however, on Kite Fly day, we all discovered a huge pond of water covering Peters Pond Road. You had to park before reaching the pond and wade through knee-deep water holding a kite over your head. Someone asked me what had happened and I had the answer. Part of the ownership problem was the fact that Peters Pond was on the map. And some years it would actually show up. This was one of them.

The following year, the Town of Southampton kindly offered us Sagg Main Beach just a half a mile away for the Kite Fly. They waived the parking regulations if we’d come after 5 p.m., which we did. And that’s where we are now.

Dan's Kite Fly always makes for an unforgettable scene at Sagg Main beach
Dan’s Kite Fly always makes for an unforgettable scene at Sagg Main beach

At the Kite Fly, even to this day, people dragging a kid come up to our flight command table at Sagg Main to tell us that when they were little, their father took them to the Kite Fly. We’ve even had grandparents say that about the full three generations.

For several years, an inflatable raft flotilla held their event in the ocean beyond the breakers at the same time we had the Kite Fly. You’d see inflatable snakes, crabs, octopuses and blow-up sharks in the water as we took our kites up.

Another year we had kids on horses riding bareback come up to the back of the dune to look us over for a while. On another occasion, we had a re-enactment with white horses on the beach, presented by a national wine distributor whose white Chardonnay was served to a friar at an inn in Italy as he arrived on horseback to spend the night after a special dinner where the wine was served. The friar on one horse wore a robe and a woman riding sidesaddle on another horse wore a gown. They rode to the water’s edge to note that they had arrived—in Italian.

Another year we had a man with leather gloves demonstrate fighting kites which he sent up together. They’d swoop and make crazy turns and the demonstration was accompanied by the narration he gave over a lapel microphone.

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