Lift Off: A Waterfront Kite Festival” is a colorful event that will be held at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday, May 11, 2019. Free and family-friendly, the event will be held on Pier 5 of the newly renovated park which has become a cultural and community hot-spot in recent years. Guests are encouraged to bring their own kites to fly high on the date. Moreover, there will also be special activities on view aimed at enlightening guests about the science of flight (which ties into S.T.E.A.M concepts).

Nancy Webster, the Executive Director of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, is proud to produce innovative and enjoyable programs for visitors to the park along the Brooklyn Waterfront. Nancy discussed the kite festival and more via an exclusive interview on May 7, 2019.

Programs, parks, and planning

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get involved with the park and how did you find your way to Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy?

Nancy Webster (NW): I have always loved water and began volunteering with the Conservancy in our advocacy efforts to bring programming and build a park here on the Brooklyn waterfront.

Eventually, I decided to leave my advertising career and work full-time with the Conservancy.

MM: What sorts of programs do you typically look for and how far in advance do you generally plan events?

NW: We strive for a diverse array of cultural and recreational programming for parkgoers of all ages and backgrounds, which we hope will appeal to New Yorkers and visitors alike. Some of our long-standing, beloved programs go back 20 years, and some are brand new this season. Our partners, the majority that are local to Brooklyn and are rooted within their communities, collaborate with us in providing high-quality, accessible performances, classes, and other welcoming opportunities that celebrate public, green space on our waterfront. As soon as we close out our season in the Fall, we’re already in the planning stages for the following year’s programming.

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Kites, event preparation, and the future

MM: How did the Kite Festival start and what has the response been like?

NW: The Kite Festival started about five years ago, and the response has been amazing.

MM: Typically, how many kites are in the air on the date? How many of those are professional and how many are simply people who came to be part of the day?

NW: We have hundreds of kites in the air on festival day. A few professionals, bringing larger and showier kites, join us each year.

MM: How much preparation goes into the Kite Festival and what do you most enjoy about this event?

NW: We begin working on the Kite Festival in the winter. Our goal is to curate a program that not only features kites but also incorporates hands-on exhibits and workshops. In our education work here at the park, we talk a lot about water and marine animals and landscape and terrestrial animals. Our Kite Festival allows us to explore air, wind, and weather.

MM: What are some of the coolest kites you’ve seen and how do you hope this program evolves in the future?

NW: I love the whimsical kites that our visitors bring.

Favorites include a giant octopus from last year, plus all the kites shaped like dragons in this “Game of Thrones” age. Going forward, we will continue to incorporate experts from the kite-flying community to lead workshops in kite flying/creation for all ages, and free mobile-based technology to allow youth and families to continue their exploration about air and aerodynamics long after the Festival.

MM: What advice would you give to someone who wants to pitch a program to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy?

NW: We look for partners that align with the Conservancy’s mission, which is to support the public’s needs, enrichment, and enjoyment of the Park. We also look for partners who highlight our waterfront location, with its unrivaled views, unique ecology, and adaptive reuse while also providing local residents and visitors both high-quality and inclusive opportunities for participation. Whether a program is a fitness, arts, and culture, or recreation, they should welcome people no matter their background.

MM: What other exciting events have you planned for 2019 and would you like to mention anything else?

NW: We’re thrilled to be celebrating our 20th year of programming, which was recently featured by The New York Times. This season includes the 20th anniversary of our flagship Movies with "A View" series. We’ve also expanded some offerings, including our Unplugged acoustic weekly music series and our summer youth kayaking program for ages 11-18. We’re also excited to offer rod-and-reel fishing clinics to complement our popular seining program, as well as multiple chances to take The Class by Taryn Toomey, one of the most popular fitness and wellness classes in New York City.

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