Flying high

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:26 PM

USA Today named the state park beach one of the top 10 places in the country to go fly a kite. It was No. 5.

“I think they're right on the money,” said Lynn Negen, who owns Mackinaw Kite Co. in Grand Haven with her husband, Steve Negen. “I've traveled to beaches all over the country and I'm always astounded at how nice Grand Haven is. It's a gorgeous beach and the wind is nice off the lake.”

The Negens' shop will host next month's Great Lakes Kite Festival.

“When the largest kite festival in the Midwest celebrates its 25th anniversary, that tells me, yes, it's a good place to fly a kite,” Negen said. “The beaches (that USA Today has) listed are fabulous beaches, and I think it's awesome we're included there.”

Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley, Calif., topped the list. The rest of the top five were in Wildwood, N.J.; Clearwater, Fla.; and the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

Joy Gaasch, president of the local Chamber of Commerce, said the honor could mean more tourists breezing into Grand Haven, which helps local businesses ride on their economic kite tails.

“I think it's a whole new audience that we'll reach — not only the kite enthusiasts, but the families that want to do something different on a vacation,” she said. “How cool would it be to say, 'We flew our kites at the one of the 10 best places to fly kites'? It's another one of those wonderful things our community has to offer folks.”

Gaasch said she sometimes casts a kite into the wind.

“I don't get out as often as I would like, but it's always fun,” she said. “There are so many absolutely wonderful kites you can fly that do neat things up in the air. It's like reliving your childhood.”

Gaasch said the honor comes as a perfect preview for the Great Lakes Kite Festival, scheduled for May 17-19.

“The kite festival already draws from all around the Midwest,” she said. “To have an article in USA Today 'pre-kite fest' is pretty amazing.”

Gaasch said the national newspaper made a wise choice to include the Grand Haven beach on its list.

“Usually, there's a pretty brisk wind down at the beach and there's so much room to maneuver," she said. "You're looking over a vast expanse of water and the pier is a great backdrop. It's just you and Mother Nature.”

Negen said even for non-flyers, kites add an aesthetic value to the skyline.

“Everyone likes to look at a kite in the sky, and people of all ages enjoy flying them," she said. "There's something that's emotionally uplifting about flying a kite and it never goes out of style.

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