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Go Fly A Kite...At San Juan National Historic Site

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While flying kites at San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico used to cause problems with kites that "escaped," and discarded kite string, park officials have turned the hobby into a festival that focuses on flying kites, cleaning up afterwards, and preserving the fortifications in the park.

This Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. the historic site will celebrate its 11th "Festival de Chiringas" at Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

"We have held this important event over the last 11 years to promote awareness of keeping a balance between kite flying and preserving the fortifications," said Superintendent Walter J. Chavez. "The cleaning of abandoned kites, kite string and associated trash, has been a constant source of frustration and additional work for our staff that really affects our ability to properly maintain the fortifications and the park."

The esplanade, or green area, in front of El Morro is historically a battleground. However, over the years it has become a favorite area for generations of visitors to enjoy flying kites. Many visitors continually share their stories of flying kites there as children with their families or as part of a school group.

While kite flying is allowed, the National Park Service asks kite flyers to properly dispose of used kites and string. When not disposed properly, these materials end up on the fortification walls, along El Paseo del Morro, and even in the San Juan Bay, causing damage to sea life and birds as well as creating trash that must constantly be picked up. The kite festival helps to create awareness of enjoying kite flying, while helping to take proper care of the esplanade of El Morro with kite making workshops, educational talks and a kite flying contest.

Special prizes will be given to winners for the best handmade kite, the best environmental message or use of recyclable materials, and other categories. A highlight of the festival is always the kite-making workshops. Participants are encouraged to build their own kites using traditional and recyclable materials by experts or craftsman.

This year, a workshop will be held at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas on Thursday and is open to all.

"It is about working together and creating awareness and consciousness to preserve, protect and enjoy the beauty of this cultural landscape and the fortifications of San Juan National Historic Site, especially with our young adults and children, so that they can become future stewards of these resources," said Superintendent Chavez, "

Attendance to the festival is free (there is a charge to visit the fortifications of El Morro and San Cristobal) and all visitors are welcome and encouraged to participate.

San Juan National Historic Site is comprised of Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristóbal, Fort San Juan de La Cruz (El Cañuelo), San Juan Gate, and most of the City Wall. The site is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission to San Juan National Historic Site and its fortifications is $5 for visitors 16 years or more and free for those 15 and under with an adult.

Comments

Good idea, much better aproach than not allowing kites in the park. Beautiful site, was just there  two weeks ago, grass was green kites were flying.


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