When I was a kid, my favorite outdoor activity was flying kites.
Sure, it was great to play freeze tag or toss the ball around with my friends, however from the late 70’s through the 80’s, what my brother and I used to get really excited for was having Dad take us to the sheep meadow in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to fly kites. He would stop by either Toys ‘R’ Us or some discount store on the way. I think he bought the kites ahead of time more often than not because taking two kids along to Toys ‘R’ Us in the 80’s would have just turned into its own full day of activities (“ooooh! G.I. Joe! Transformers! ThunderCats!! Can I have these?”)
Once we had our kites selected (I was always partial to the Spider-man or Captain America kites, my brother was more into the bat kites or anything that resembled a bird or insect), it was off to the park to set up and let fly! We never did the traditional old fashioned kites that you see shaped like a diamond in them Charlie Brown cartoons, nor did we mess with any of them crazy looking box kites (too much work to assemble!), but any kites that were cool fliers or stunt kites were the move. If we could do tricks in the air like loops and such, even better!
Pop taught us how to set the kites up, string them and get them into the air. Of course, you needed a good windy day, but also you needed some momentum, and that meant running top speed with your kite in your hands to get a nice push-off going….
Yeah, so I fell on my face a few times trying to get the kites in the air, but after maybe 8 or 10 spills, I got the hang of it and next thing you know my kite is in the sky. Letting out the line gradually but keeping it taught throughout, judging for wind speed and direction…. these were the things Pop taught us on those Saturdays long ago. Eventually the kite was high enough in the sky that we could tie our strings to a nearby tree and just watch them continue to fly on their own.
Now there were other things I liked about outside as well… because we couldn’t fly kites every day, I spent a lot of time outside with Power Prop Flying Gliders, the styrofoam planes you can throw in the air. They were modeled after WWII propeller planes and had a little plastic propeller that went on the nose. I was that much into flying that I used to buy these planes wherever I could– the department store, the bodega, the ice cream truck…
The other outside activity I loved were trips to Brooklyn’s own Coney Island Astroland Park! It was there that you could play arcade games, eat a Nathan’s hot dog, hit the beach, and ride rides like the World Famous Cyclone roller coaster.
Wanna know why The Cyclone is world famous? It’s one of the world’s oldest wooden roller coasters, and because of this fact anyone riding it ran the risk of it falling apart at any time. Sure, you have your more recent coasters where you stand up, dangle, go in loops or ride backwards, but The Cyclone remains the scariest ride of all time because it’s so rickety and old, you WILL fear for your safety with every ride! Visit Brooklyn and try it yourself!
Or you can tell me to go fly a kite!
Classick Material still flies kites on occasion, but only while wearing a suit and tie. He is the editor-in-chief of this site and is also the co-host of the Cold Slither Podcast and the host of the Classick Team-Up podcast. He challenges anyone who hasn’t ridden The Cyclone to try it, but only to do so BEFORE eating Nathan’s Hot Dogs.
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