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Colorful kites will fill Ocean City sky this wknd.

(Sept. 20, 2013) Thousands of spectators and kite-flyers will gather in Ocean City this weekend for the 36th annual Sunfest Kite Festival, five days of kite competitions, relays, games, workshops and other free activities on the beach.

Kite Fest started with just a few flyers, but now draws up to 200 kite-flyers and thousands of spectators each year, said Kite Loft owner Jay Knerr. The Kite Loft hosts the event on the beach each year.

He expects a good showing again this weekend with weather forecasts showing nice beach winds.

“The sky should be filled with color,” he said.

Today’s events kick off at 10 a.m. with the “Mega Mass Ascension” of kites at the beach between Third and Sixth streets. Everyone is invited to fly a kite or watch the event as the kites fly up in unison.

At 2:30 p.m., there will be a candy drop on the beach, giving children a chance to scramble for wrapped candy dropped from a kite flying above.

All day, the Kite Loft, located on the Boardwalk at Fifth Street, will offer free sport kite lessons on the beach, teaching techniques for maneuvering two- and four-string kites. There will also be demos and a Giant Kite Air Show throughout the day.

“We invite certain people down who make large, showpiece-type of kites— kites that most people wouldn’t even imagine could fly,” Knerr said. Keep an eye out for giant whales and fish in the sky, among other unusual designs, he said.

Saturday, another mass ascension launches at 10 a.m. on the beach, followed by the Running of the Bols at noon. In that event, children of different age groups are harnesses to bols — wind turbines — and make a mad dash down the beach against the wind.

“They’re running at full speed, but it looks like they’re running in slow motion,” Knerr said. “It’s very comical” to watch and a favorite among spectators.

Another candy drop launches at 12:30 p.m. and at 1 p.m., the Kite Loft will give away kites to the first 100 youth ages 5-12 to visit. Boardwalk dancing starts in front of the store on the seawall at 2:30 p.m., and though the event doesn’t involve kites, it’s fun, Knerr said.

Later that day, the Ron Young Memorial Flight takes off.

“Ron Young was an active participant in this event for many, many years. He was also a kite-maker and a good friend to a lot of people,” Knerr said. Participants will fly kites made by Young in his memory, though anyone is invited to participate.

At 4 p.m., the winner of the Sunfest Choice is announced. Several kite-makers bring their works to display in the skies, and the winner is chosen by randomly polling people on the Boardwalk on their favorite kite. He or she will take home a gift certificate to a local business as a prize.

A night kite fly starts at 8:30 p.m. Saturday on the beach. All day, the Kite Loft will offer free sport kite lessons on the beach and there will be demos and a Giant Kite Air Show.

Sunday, the final mass ascension launches at 10 a.m.  At 11 a.m., a Rokk Battle ensues. In the competition, teams try to knock each other’s kites from the sky either by cutting their lines or forcing them onto the grounds in a three-heat challenge. It’s “a great spectator event,” Knerr said.

There will be demos and a Giant Kite Air Show throughout the day, ending around 4 p.m.

All Kite Festival events are free and no experience is required. Some participants come year after year, others have never flown a kite and many come just to watch the events, Knerr said.

“We just really want to encourage everyone to come out and fly a kite,” he said.

Look for sales at the Kite Loft throughout the weekend, with kites starting from $10.

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