Unity at the Lake’s response to war: ‘Go fly a kite’ | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Unity at the Lake’s response to war: ‘Go fly a kite’

Susan Wood

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune Milan Apley, 9, left, and Alysha Maskaly, 14, draw designs on the wings of a kite.

If kites were once used for war, they can be flown for peace.

That was the thought of 24 members of the Unity at the Lake congregation, who came out in the roaring wind at Nevada Beach last weekend to fly kites for peace. It’s the second year the church hosted the event.

Many of the kites caught the wind and became fixtures in the trees, while others snapped in the sky.

The lesson in futility proved to be a demonstration in teamwork. Many of the adults helped the children with their wounded works of art.

“It teaches kids to work through adversity,” said Bill Alameda, who helped organize the event.

The kite that Arionna Gammon, 9, flew became a permanent message in the trees.

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“I tried to fix it and it slipped out,” she said.

The hearty group made the kites Saturday, and Alameda reinforced the 30 kites after hearing the wind would pick up Sunday.

“We’ve broken a few today,” he said on the beach that day.

Builders cut out plastic for the sail, drew on the outline with markers and stabilized them with horizontal and vertical sticks. Many wrote words of inspiration across the kite – “peace, love, namaste.” The latter is a common greeting in Nepal.

Church member and kite maker, Bob Mannle, created his own greeting for the group. He tried to anchor his kite with a pine cone. Instead, it became a weapon of sorts.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, kites were used for lifting military observers to heights from which they could see enemy forces. During World War II, kites became gunnery targets.

Now that the U.S. remains in conflict in the Middle East, building the kites served as a local gesture against the Iraq occupation.

“We wanted to symbolize what Unity is all about,” said Tricia Amthauer, who chose to co-create a kite with her 12-year-old daughter, Jordawn.

Kites have been around for more than 3,000 years, making their initial debut in China. Bamboo provided the frame, and silk was used for the sail.

American diplomat and scientist Benjamin Franklin took kites to new heights when he investigated atmospheric electricity – Mother Nature’s other wrath. Kite studies were further conducted by physicist and inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

Starting in the 1890s, box kites constructed with two open-ended structures were used for sending meteorological instruments aloft to measure temperature, barometric pressure, humidity and wind velocity.

They’d have plenty to gauge at Lake Tahoe.