You probably missed the Dan’s Papers Kite Fly. It took place between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on the rainy Sunday afternoon of August 8, and if you had been to it before, you probably felt sad about not going.
In prior years the wind had blown and the sun had shone. As many as one hundred people got kites up into the sky there at Sagg Main Beach, and on the sand Jim Turner and his bluegrass band entertained, a face painter brushed the children’s faces, a magician in black cape and hat did tricks and lots of prizes were given out from a table right there in the sand with signs on it, which the promoters of the event, us, called “Flight Control,” and everyone had a wonderful time.
The Kite Fly has been a 41-year-old tradition. But you probably looked at your kids and thought, well, not in this rain.
In the morning, the rains kept starting, then stopping, then starting again. I talked to Vicki Schneps, the president of Schneps Media, which owns Dan’s Papers. She said as founder of both the paper and the Kite Fly, it was up to me to decide what to do.
After observing the rain, I called the crew at Dan’s Papers around noon to tell them we’d have to cancel. Nobody would come. Paper kites would crumble. People would catch colds. And there was no wind. Without wind, the kites wouldn’t fly anyway. But the staff at the paper asked me to wait. Maybe things would clear. I said no.
Then, at 1 in the afternoon, on TV I watched a weatherman say the rain would be on and off until 9 p.m. He then paused. And then asked himself a question. Would the Mets play at Citi Field that afternoon? They probably would, he said.
And I thought there just might be a carload or two of diehard parents and kids with homemade kites coming to the kite fly, even in the rain. And if they might come, we owed it to them to be there.
So I called back and said, “Let’s do it.” And everybody cheered.
At 4:45 p.m., myself, my wife and a houseguest piled into our car for the six-mile drive to Sagg Main.
I had no expectation that the face painter, the magician and Jim Turner and his bluegrass band would show up in the rain. I wouldn’t if I were them. But the show would go on.
During that drive, I thought about what I had to personally go through to get the permits to hold this Kite Fly. There were no permits required 41 years ago. We just did it. There were years when 100 or more people would show up to fly kites. Our local officials would be there, too. Then one year, a permit was needed.
This year, to have a kite fly, we needed to get 13 town permits. Yes, 13. And we needed to apply a month in advance.
There was the four-page, 32-question Facility Use Permit Application for the Town of Southampton Parks and Recreation Department. Among the questions were Type of Facility Requested, (Beach); Will you be using a caterer (No)?; Will there be soliciting or selling of any kind (No)?; Are you requesting a contained fire (No)?; If yes, describe container.
There was the two-page Certificate of Liability Insurance requirement to be filled out.
The one-page, 22-question 2021 Record Owner’s Endorsement had to be signed in front of a notary.
The 2021 Authorization for Inspection and Indemnity Agreement had to be signed by us in front of a notary.
The 2021 Affidavit-Consent of Agent for Service one-page agreement with 11 blanks had to be filled out and signed in front of a notary.
The one-page 2021 Indemnity Agreement had to be sworn to and signed in front of a notary.
The three-page Incident Action Plan of 16 items needed to be filled out.
The 2021 Special Events Disclosure Affidavit needed to be signed in front of a notary.
The whopping, six-page 2021 Special Events Application, the COVID-19 Safety Plan and the Special Events Disclosure Application had to be signed in front of a notary after reading a warning saying that a false statement made herein is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.
There was even a permit from the fire department that they’d forgotten to tell us about ahead of time.
The Town Clerk called at 3:15 p.m. on Friday to tell us of that permit. Somebody had to come over, fill it out and sign before a notary and we had to be there by 4:30 p.m. when they closed. The permit needed to be visible at the event or there would be no Kite Fly on Sunday.
Does this qualify as a scandal? I think it does.
Coming down Sagg Main Street, it was possible to look into the sky through the rain and windshield wipers to see if any kites were up above the beach. There were two.
“People have come!” I cheered.
We parked and in the rain ran down to the beach. There were five kites on the ground and two in the sky, with kite-flyers attending them in rain gear. Then, one by one, more carloads of people arrived. They assembled themselves socially distant from one another and set out blankets and beach chairs under umbrellas. Call them beach pods. And each pod had a single kid, or two kids, who now was trying to get a kite up. Contestants. The other folks were the cheering sections. What a wild and wet afternoon. And now the wind wonderfully sprang up.
The kites included a man’s shirt on some sticks that they got to fly. Another was a flying boat with a twirling propeller at the bottom rear. Another was a bird and another a bat.
“We’ve won four years in a row,” a man told me.
Someone asked where the music, magicians and face painters were. There weren’t any. He said this as he rubbed rain out of his eyes.
Well, we did it. We judged and gave out the prizes, certificates from Shock Ice Cream in Westhampton Beach and tickets to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead. What a day.
And that was this year’s Kite Fly.