Kite enthusiasts swoop into annual festival in Belmar

Lauren Wanko, Correspondent | November 21, 2018 | Around NJ

Philadelphia resident Mike Dallmer travels all over the East Coast with about 500 kites. He brought some to Belmar’s annual Kite Festival, though he couldn’t show off his show kites.

“It’s amazing — what a relief. All that hard work and the kite’s up in the air,” he said. “It gives you a major sense of accomplishment.”

Like so many things that depend on Mother Nature, kite flying is no exception. Kite flyers need at least 5 miles per hour of steady wind, ideally 10 to 12. When there is enough wind though, massive kites, like a 25-foot wide by 27-foot tall duck designed by Mike’s son, Michael Jr., fly through the sky.

“Him and I made it in our basement in Northeast Philadelphia in a row house that is 14 feet wide. The last seam on the duck was 75 feet long. The duck totally took 300 hours to make,” Dallmer said.

“Just because I’m a mechanical engineer doesn’t mean that’s the reason I was able to do it. It’s just, you can read it, research and learn about it and anybody can do this,” his son said.

It’s become a family hobby. Mike’s wife even makes kites with kids at many of the events. Belmar’s event is sponsored by the Belmar Business Partnership. It’s the beach town’s 5th annual kite festival.

“Everyone loves it — adults and children,” said Salvatore Marchese, president of the Belmar Business Partnership.

Debra Bowlby fell in love with the hobby about 20 years ago. The name of her club? Passing Wind Kite Club.

“You need passing wind in order to fly kites, so we have the passing wind kite club,” said Bowlby. “It was actually a joke but it came to life. And everybody loves it, everybody wants a sticker.”

One of Debra’s kites is three stories high. Some kites cost as much as $10,000.

“You really have to love the hobby,” Bowlby said. “You pray your offspring will also love it, so you can pass them down.”

Mike and his son tried to get their 80-foot long sting ray in the air. When it’s in the air, it displays the kind of ‘wow’ factor that continues to encourage kite flyers to keep flying.