[xtypo_dropcap]C[/xtypo_dropcap]aterpillars, octopuses, and one-eyed monsters aren’t typically the creatures you see as a kite, but one man is using them as his own way of giving a hand to the community.
A native of Lufkin, Texas, retiree Barry Ogletree travels the country helping charities raise money by flying massive kites.
Each kite averages up to 150 feet in length, and they mostly aquatic themed with shapes such as sharks, fishes, octopuses, and divers. Ogletree has over 70 of the massive kites in his collection. Collections of small- and medium-sized kites also number in the hundreds.
Once or twice a month, Ogletree hits the road with a trailer full of kites to cities across the country. With the help of his wife, he flies his collection at various festivals, helping charities raise money through kite and food sales.
“We were trying to do something when we retired, and we were thinking of things to do for pay back,” said Ogletree. “It’s a legitimate charity that is trying to do good in the community.”
According to KTRE news, the kites helped raise an estimated $58,000 at a Habitat for Humanity fundraiser in Oklahoma.
The kites have also been flown in Canada, Mexico, and South America.
“A lot of places we go they can’t afford lots of kites,” said Ogletree. “They can’t afford to make kites out of scrap paper. When you walk up and show them how to fly [a kite] and interest may spark in that child. All of a sudden, he may be wondering how it flies, how it all works, and may wind up being inspired to be a pilot.”
The love for kite flying started 32 years ago, says Ogletree. The family was on vacation in Florida when his children spotted kites being flown on the beach. Ogletree initially rejected the idea, fearing that the sticks used as support for the kites would hurt the children. However, he changed his mind when one of his children found one without sticks.
Ogletree’s children later lost interest, but the love of kite flying has stayed with him since.
“The kids grew up and I didn’t,” said Ogletree. “I just kept right on flying the kites.”