Kite offers perfect pandemic therapy

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When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, François Larouche saw his concerts as a professional guitarist quickly dry up.

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But thanks to a chance meeting in a Quebec park last summer, Larouche discovered a new passion for kites.

“The kite was like a godsend,” Larouche said on Saturday afternoon when he attended the 9e Line Kite Festival east of Markdale. “It got me out of the rut to look for some kind of reason to live, a reason to continue.

“I’m a musician, I’m an artist and I thrive on it, and I didn’t have it anymore.”

Now he says kite flying has become the perfect therapy for him.

“I feel like I’m in a position where it brings me a lot of joy and peace and you have no idea how zen it is,” Larouche said. “I go to the park, I fly my kite, I’m all alone and maybe I have music, and all the problems in the world go away. You just have to be so focused. “

Larouche was sitting in the summer of 2020 after his life went from around 100 concerts a year to zero due to the pandemic.

“I was playing ball with my son in the park when I saw this unidentified flying object,” Larouche said. “It was (teammate Serge Lépine) who flew one of these revolutionary kites, which have been around for 25 years.

Larouche said he knew nothing about kites when he met Lépine that day. He didn’t do this growing up and really had no interest in the hobby. But what Lépine was doing was not your everyday kite.

“I asked him to explain what was going on, because kites don’t do that,” Larouche said. “They don’t just hover and not move, and go back and up and all kinds of things.”

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To say that Larouche has immersed himself in the kite over the past year is an understatement. He now lives and breathes the kite. He started flying kites and didn’t stop.

“I have flown every day for the past year in the Montreal park where I live,” said Larouche. “I have consulted many brochures and received a lot of advice. “

He took a kite course called Club 38 and is now one of the few triple masters in the country, an incredible feat as he had never even flown a kite until a year ago. He studied the world’s best and their maneuvers on YouTube and created several of his own. He has participated in other kite festivals, where he has met many of the best pilots in the country.

He said he had an engineering background and really enjoyed the math challenge behind the kite.

“I love the way we intertwine, and it gets pretty crazy sometimes,” Larouche said. “Sometimes we don’t even know who’s above whom and you have to find a way to sort it out and then everyone’s out. It’s like magic.

He is also very musical, having been a professional musician for over 30 years, and combining the kite with music felt so natural to him.

“The movement is a lot like music and I love that we can work around music,” Larouche said. “As a leader, I listen to the music and wait for signals, like a cymbal crash or something, and then we move at the same time when the music goes boom.”

He wrote a long “kite ballet” at the end of winter, which was reduced to the production that his team, the Hot Club of Quad, presented to spectators on the 9th.e Line Kite Festival on Saturday.

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Veronica, 5, from Toronto, tries to fly her kite during the 9th Line Kite Festival east of Markdale on Saturday, September 18, 2021.
Veronica, 5, from Toronto, tries to fly her kite during the 9th Line Kite Festival east of Markdale on Saturday, September 18, 2021.

The team, which quickly became a fan favorite on Saturday, is made up of Larouche, Lépine, Simon Roy and guest driver Dominic Guimond, who Larouche says is “as good as it gets”.

The production saw the band perform in front of the audience for about 12 minutes to music by the band Muse, during which they made the kites dance synchronously across the sky and soar in lines, squares and other shapes to amazement. smiling spectators. .

Although Larouche is proud of the work accomplished by his team, he does not intend to stop where they are now. He wants to do more and push the boundaries of what kites can do.

“There’s a lot you can do with four pilots and kites, but when you’re six you can do a lot more than with four or five,” said Larouche. “It opens up all kinds of new ideas. “

The 9e The Line Kite Festival marked its first year, held across 36 acres of open fields at Nicholls Farm between Kimberley and Markdale, and on Saturday thousands came to experience kites of all shapes and sizes. There were star aviators with their large, colorful kites, including interesting shapes like a horse, a fish, and even Super Mario Bros. In a separate field, visitors could bring or make their own kites and fly them, while vendors lined up the trail to the site. A stage was set up where live music was played.

A large kite in the shape of a flying fish at the 9th Line Kite Festival east of Markdale on Saturday, September 18, 2021. The two-day festival continued on Sunday.
A large kite in the shape of a flying fish at the 9th Line Kite Festival east of Markdale on Saturday, September 18, 2021. The two-day festival continued on Sunday.

Organizer Dave Meslin, who founded the Toronto Windfest in 2010, said he was thrilled with how the free-entry family event went.

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“We didn’t sell tickets so we didn’t know, and I kind of like the suspense of not knowing,” the part-time resident Eugenia said on Saturday. “My high end was 1,000 and my low was 200, and we probably had well over 2,000. It feels good.”

He said the event was a celebration of all that is local with local vendors, food manufacturers and musicians, hosted by an incredible group of volunteers including the local Rotary club. Although it is difficult to say where people came from, he said he had heard that there were a lot of locals, but also many visitors to the Greater Toronto Area.

“Kites are really magical and I think people just needed a reason to get out of the house and do something with others, but also to be safe,” Meslin said. “I think the timing was right.”

A kite flying at the 9th Line Kite Festival east of Markdale on Saturday September 18, 2021. The two day festival continued on Sunday.
A kite flying at the 9th Line Kite Festival east of Markdale on Saturday September 18, 2021. The two day festival continued on Sunday.

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