RICHLAND -- Greg Greger of Richland grew up on a small ranch in northern Nebraska.
"We were 10 miles from the nearest town of 863 population," he said. "That meant we had to create our own fun activities."
Fortunately for Greger, steady winds blew over the grassy plains of the Cornhusker State, which led to an early love of building and flying kites.
The 89-year-old is as avid a kite flyer today as he was in his youth. It's one of the reasons he continues to organize the annual spring Kite Festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at Marina Park in Richland.
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At age 9, Greger was sifting through a new set of encyclopedias on the single-shelf library at his one-room school house when he discovered a book about kite building.
"From this my first kite came together, using thin willow twigs for spars and newspaper for the kite cover," he said. "It flew, and I was hooked."
He grew up and went off to serve in World War II. After the war, he came home and enrolled at the University of Nebraska, where he met his wife Margaret.
"We found similar interests in kites," Greger said. "Margaret had grown up in western Nebraska and also flew kites with her brothers growing up."
Greger moved his family to the Tri-Cities in 1950, where he went to work at Hanford as a radiation monitor specialist, then an administration specialist. He retired as a senior systems analyst.
Margaret Greger, who died in 2009, authored several kite building and flying books.
The Gregers created the kite festival decades ago. After Margaret died, Greg kept the festival going and continues to teach younger generations the age-old craft of building a kite.
"I passed my 89th (birthday) in February and I am still flying high -- higher than some at that age," Greger quipped. "Teaching kite-making to teams of kids and their parents is very satisfying."
At today's festival, Greger plans to have several kites on hand for people to try out.
Copies of his wife's books also will be available at no charge to various nonprofit groups involved with youth activities, such as, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, The Arc of Tri-Cities and others, he said.
For more information, go to www.kitesforeveryone.com.
* Dori O'Neal: 509-582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org