BERKELEY, Calif. — The audience was in awe as the thin red-and- white kite transformed into a human-like creature, taking on actions like walking and waving. The triangular shaped kite was a stand-out crowd pleaser of the annual Berkeley Kite Festival on Sunday and standing behind the magic was 42-year-old professional kite flyer John Barresi.
Barresi has been hooked on flying kites ever since he first placed his hands on one in 1990. What started off as a small hobby has turned into Barresi’s full-time job, permitting him to fly kites in more than a dozen different countries. Barresi acknowledged that kite-flying is his true passion and he enjoys both the entertainment and competitive aspects of his occupation.
“I like to be funny with the folks,” Barresi said as he touched on his actions of comedically maneuvering his kite right into the faces of amazed Berkeley kite festival attendees.
Although, Barresi sets these lighthearted tricks aside when he takes on a much more serious persona as a competitor in kite flying tournaments.
A fairly new aspect to many, kite competitions consist of multiple different divisions most broadly separated by individual categories and team categories. Individually, Barresi participates in the “square” category, which is an evaluation of how a pilot displays straight lines and sharp turns precisely.
Additionally, Barresi competes in the “ballet” division, which consists of making a unique kite routine to a song of the pilot’s choice. Ballet competitions are judged on the choreography and variety of their performance. A performance to an iconic AC DC song was pointed out by Barresi as his favorite ballet production. Barresi said that the performance “took me on a journey.”
Aside from his talent individually, Barresi also leads teams of three or more in kite competitions. Within the team division groups of pilots intricately weave their lines together, creating unique visuals and stunts to later be judged on. Barresi and a teammate founded iQuad in 2006, which promotes team flying across the kite community.
Despite his talent competitively, Barresi never ceases to remember the original reason he fell in love with kites in the first place.
He has been attending the Berkeley festival for 27 years and said this one was his favorite.
“There’s just such a wide diversity of everyone,” Barresi said. He also said he enjoyed that both professionals and amateurs shared the hillsides of Cesar Chavez Park near the Berkeley Marina.
“Anybody can fly kites whether their 90 or 5,” Barresi said.
When reflecting on what advice he would give potential kite flyers, Barresi acknowledged that his talent comes from many years of practice but ultimately kite flying centers around one simple principle.
“It all comes down to relaxing,” Barresi said. And after taking one long deep breath, he explained how the peaceful aspect of kite flying should never go unnoticed.
Barresi will continue to use his passion as a passport to many unique experiences in his lifetime. He has been a flyer for 26 years, 11 months, 1 week, 3 days, 17 hours, 43 minutes, and 15 seconds, according to his website,
Barresi only hopes to spread his love for kites to more people around the world.