This unique event is a dual fly in conjunction with the Alaska kite fliers and the MN Kite Society. It is support of the Alaska Wilderness League and the 50th Anniversary of the Alaska Wilderness. The connection is the migration of birds that fly from the tundra of Alaska through MN and beyond.
Just as countless birds follow the Mississippi Flyway from Minnesota to the Alaskan Arctic and back again each year, Tom Cross made the same journey to highlight the importance the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge plays in the lives of so many birds that journey throughout all 50 states and six continents. Tom, who is president of the Minnesota Kite Society, took five “swallow” kites with him to Alaska to fly high in the sky on July 16th in Anchorage – returning to Minnesota for a similar event in the fall. These swallows represent the 88 species of birds that begin their lives on the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Refuge’s Coastal Plain, a vital habitat for some of the world’s most beloved birds as well as caribou, polar bears and more, has been under threat from oil and gas development for many years. Tom and his kites will be carrying messages from Minnesotans and Alaskans alike who are marking the 50th anniversary of this national treasure with a renewed push for strong protections against development. The swallow kites, shaped like swallow birds, will be inscribed with wishes for the protection of the Arctic Refuge, which will then be sent to the sky.
The Alaska Wilderness League will be at the 2010 Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, MN on August 28-29. Here is a link to information about how to find their booth.
A Note from Tom
The writer Demi wrote a children's book "Kites, Magic Wishes That Fly Up To the Sky."
It is a story of a little Chinese girl that sent messages on kites so she could, "...fly it right up to the sky and the gods in heavens will see it immediately." One of the shapes she chose was the fat Swallow that symbolizes greatness, innocence and peace.
And so a migration of birds begins. As President of the Minnesota Kite Society, I received five Swallow kites at Wishes for the Sky, a Eastern philosophy Earth Day event organized by Marcus Young. The Chinese oriented event uses hand made Swallow kites, made by a master kite builder in China, that are recycled each year. Participants receive a kite from an elder then write a wish on it and fly it to the heavens. I will take the five kites and continue the spiritual migration of the birds to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Alaska Wilderness Refuge.
In July I will symbolically fly the kites in Denali National Park and hopefully fly them again in the Arctic National Refuge. They will again fly at Cuddy Family Midtown Park in Anchorage, AK at 5PM. Here again participants will write wishes on the kites that will fly to the heavens. The kites represent the birds that migrate south to Minnesota in the winter. Two of the kites will remain in Alaska.
Again in the winter the kites will fly on December 11th at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Minneapolis. It will partially complete the migration of the birds. The last kite will return to Wishes for the Sky next April 2011.
It is a great honor to represent the birds and the spirit of the people by carrying the kites with their messages to Alaska and migrate back to Minnesota. The kite can also fend off bad luck, guide the birds and protect the land for many centuries to come.
The following pictures were taken and provided by Steve Charles. The pictures are from the Wishes for the Sky event last April. In the picture on the left, Tom meets one of the elders. In the picture on the right are Tom Cross, the elders and Marcus Young.
The following video is from the Alaska fly on Friday, July 16th in Anchorage, AK. Here is a link to the video on the Alaska Public Radio website.