RICHLAND -- Kites soared high, swooped into trees and dashed themselves into splinters on the ground at Columbia Point Marina Park in Richland on Sunday.
It was the Ben Franklin Kite Society's annual "fun-fly" event. Several families gamely attempted to go fly a kite despite the strong gusty winds.
Lindsey Jones and her dad, Pete Jones, both of Kennewick and members of the American Kite Association, arrived about noon. They fly kites competitively in places like Long Beach, well known for its kite festivals.
"This is a really bad day for kites," said Lindsey Jones, estimating the wind at a steady 35-40 miles per hour, with gusts reaching 50 mph.
"I call these conditions today 'Breaking Spars 101.' The wind is really squirrely," she joked.
Seconds later, the line on her kite snapped, sending it skittering through the sky towards the Columbia River. Fortunately, a tree stopped the kite's flight, but it took her dad and two other kite enthusiasts several minutes to free it.
"Trees are the arch enemy of kites," Pete Jones said.
Lenny Gamboa of Richland and her son, Emi, 9, probably agree.
Their butterfly kite, bought several years ago at Costco, dove up, down and side to side, narrowly missing Emi several times before ending up high in a tree.
"It's a monster," Emi shrieked, ducking as the kite skimmed past his head.
"For flying kites, some wind is good but apparently not too much," Lenny Gamboa said.
Wind also was the enemy of the box kite belonging to Clifford Brown of Richland and his son, Adam, 5. It lasted only a few minutes before the gusts dashed it to the ground, its spars shattered.
"It wasn't the best kite in the world. It had been hanging in the garage for a few years and I had to use some duct tape on it," Clifford Brown said.
Kite flying is a popular spring sport for the Aguirre family in Pasco. They like to send them flying high above the fields around Pasco High School, but drove to Richland on Sunday to try their luck.
Juan Aguirre, watching his son, Nathan, 9, launch his kite into the sky, recalled making homemade kites out of sticks and garbage bags when he was growing up in California.
"They weren't pretty, but they flew," he said.