By RENE TORRES
Special to the Parade
It was a Saturday afternoon in March of 1930 that brought families and plenty of contestants to the Riverside Park for the first annual Brownsville Herald kite contest.
Although the morning started overcast and even with some rain, by noon, the gloom of the morning gave way to bright sunshine. It was like the gods had something to do with it – as the stillness of day break followed with a steady north wind making a great day for kite flying.
The contest was a huge success – as boys and girls, along with their parents, standing by as experienced consultants, were seen engaged in the most ultimate carefree pastime.
There were at least 50 kids with a variety of kits, some homemade, others store bought, but regardless of their origins – the sky was adorned with an assortment of kites, soaring gracefully overhead that made for a lovely sight.
Added interest was given as many more kids were able to enter the contest thanks to the generosity of the Brownsville Coca Cola Co., who had donated some 1,200 Hi-Flier kites.
As some struggled to keep their kites aloft, Aurora Barton, a little eight year old, stole the show. She withstood the competition in the semifinals of Friday on her own schools grounds to advance to complete in the Saturday event.
Entering with a homemade kite and competing against much larger fliers, she gave one of the most outstanding demonstrations of kit flying in the event – good enough to win third prize in the girls division. Only the time limit in which to raise her kite saved the other girls from being defeated by this little giant.
As kite flying goes, part of the excitement is when the inevitable happens – the crack-ups and crashes which were expected soon followed. The spectacular mishap of the afternoon occurred when the apparent winner took a dive.
Christened the “Magic Valley,” the huge six-foot affair with a cluster of balloons in tow encountered a mysterious strong headwind snapping its middle-stick sending the big kite tumbling down to earth. While aloft, the Magic Valley was a majestic sight as it he held its place against the clouds.
The money awards which amounted to five dollars each for the first prizes and two dollars and a half for the rest of the winners was donated by the Rio Grande Valley Trust Company.
And yes, there were some kite eating trees – unattached kites were seen hanging motionless on nearby trees – while others took flied into the interior of Mexico. But overall, with all strings attached – it was a wonderful family outing at the park.
The Riverside Park proved to be the perfect location, as was evident by the many, young and old, that participated – it was a kite-flying affair that would be repeated annually.
“Get a grip on life – Go fly a kite.”