2008-08-15 / Community

Rockaway Kite Festival Cancelled

Money, Personnel In Short Supply
By Howard Schwach

Kites fly high in last year's Rockaway Kite Festival at Riis Park. The event was cancelled this year by the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, the event's sponsor. Kites fly high in last year's Rockaway Kite Festival at Riis Park. The event was cancelled this year by the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, the event's sponsor. Last year, the weekend of September 7 and 8 was a gala one for Rockaway and Gateway National Recreation Area.

On the boardwalk at Riis Park was the exciting and colorful Rockaway Kite Festival, which drew thousands from all over the tri-state region.

On the mall at Riis Park was the Rockaway Music and Arts Council's annual Fall Festival, with dozens of artists, music, food and children's activities.

At Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, just over the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Bridge was a fly-in that brought dozens of vintage aircraft to the field and which drew thousands of visitors as well.

This year, however, two-thirds of that weekend's activities are gone.

Earlier this year, officials at the Gateway National Recreation Area announced that the fly-in would not be held on an annual basis, that it probably would be held in 2009.

This week, the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce announced that the annual Rockaway Kite Festival, which was to be held on September 13 and 14, would not he held due to a lack of funds and the personnel necessary to run the major event.

While a few Rockaway residents initially blamed the cancellation on the fact that officials at Gateway had approved a permit for another kite festival, this one run by a Chinese-language newspaper in Manhattan, to be held the week prior to the planned Rockaway event, chamber officials say that the event would not have been held even if the other kite festival was not in the picture.

Alan Camhi, the president of the local chamber group, told The Wave on Monday, "We had to cancel the event,

because we had neither the funding nor the personnel to make it work." Stephen Yaeger, the president of the RMAC, whose Fall Festival is the only remaining event that weekend, still believes that Gateway was wrong to allow another kite festival the week prior to the Rockaway festival. "I can't understand why [Gateway] would do that," Yaeger said. "Why have another kite festival [competing for the public's attention] the week before? I guess that's the way Gateway operates."

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