For a minute I thought I was hallucinating. But then I saw it again – a vast purple octopus floating in the heavens. It lured me closer and drew my attention to its companions, a colossal frog, a lumbering caterpillar and, as you would expect, a gigantic penguin.
It was inspiration for a 70s drug song, but what did I find myself humming? Mary Poppins. “With your feet on the ground you’re a bird in flight… with your fist holding tight… to the string of your kite…” I was trying to keep it under my breath but it was all I could do not to burst into song.
Neill had a got a kite for his birthday and it has since become Joseph’s obsession. Just the other night he had pointed out the quarter moon in the sky and said, with a serious little nod, “Moon – like kite”. How could I not indulge that? So I strapped Joe into his car seat and headed for Muizenberg for the thirteenth annual Kite Festival.
Just the eccentricity of it is so enormously appealing. People fly to Cape Town from all over the world to show off their kites at this one event. The crazy optimism involved, the mass giddy carefree-ness and, well, the pointlessness of it all is what makes it so much fun. And if you can raise money for a good cause at the same time, well that’s fabulous. It’s no small event either. This annual event draws crowds of up to 25 000 people, all enjoying the perfect Cape Town combination of sun and wind. Everyone – old and young, rich and poor – can hold the string of a kite and feel the tug of the wind. So why not make a giant penguin, or a fish, or a frog just for the sheer fun of it? I‘d challenge anyone not to look at those extraordinary creations dancing in the breeze without a grin spreading across their face
The giant kites and the stunt kites were by no means the only show. Hundreds of schoolchildren had been preparing for weeks to take part in the wonderfully named ‘Edu-kite’ competition. Way up in the stratosphere bopped kites of every colour, while down on the ground was a miniature train which made Joseph cry with longing, as well as the biggest bouncy castle I’ve ever seen, and bungy bouncing and food and craft and clothing stalls and the inevitable DJ introducing every conceivable competition and the famous personalities who had come to judge them.
Everyone was in high spirits. Everyone that is apart from Joseph who, overcome by the thrill of it all, burst into tears and had to be taken home for a little lie down. At least, I think it was the excitement. It could have been my singing.
The thirteenth annual Kite Festival took place in 2007 at Muizenberg