Again this year, tragedy, or certainly severe unpleasantness, struck the annual Kite Festival held at The Grand Haven State Park (conveniently located in Grand Haven), when a melee erupted between two rival kiter-gangs. This traditionally tranquil event, usually a fun, safe, family-values-type-outing, has in recent years become a seething hot-bed of rivalries between the ever-growing number of gangs flying kites competitively.
This year’s violent outbreak is alleged to have begun when three members of The Silver Flyers, a gang of retirees from the Grandville area, deliberately steered their kite into the path of a kite flown by rival gang The Tail-Twisters, during what was a non-competitive, exhibition-only display of kitesmanship. Members of the Tail-Twisters charged The Silver Flyers, who plodded forward through the sand as best they could. The first first-responder to respond was off-duty County Sheriff Deputy Bernard VanderFifen, who threw himself into the melee just as it was erupting into a full-fledged fracas. “I know the City Public Safety Officers think they’ve got this event well-covered”, said Deputy VanderFifen in his exclusive interview with The Times, “But after that awful business at last year’s festival, I just thought it was the right thing for me to be down here. You just never know.”
As VanderFifen became embroiled in the fracas, Grand Haven Public Safety Officers arrived to help prevent the escalating fracas from breaking into a brouhaha that could might have spilled out into the crowd, resulting in fatalities eerily reminiscent of last year’s awful events. “I’m glad those other guys arrived when they did”, said VanderFifen over a Green Tea at the local Coffee Grounds shop two hours later. “I couldn’t stop it by myself, and some of those seniors look frail, but with all that kite flying they do, some of them have wicked-strong arms.”
City Officers separated the gangs, and made multiple arrests, including three Silver Flyers charged with the beating of a Tail-Twister gang member identified only as ‘Wing-Man-X’, who is currently in guarded, but stable condition at North Ottawa Community Hospital. No onlookers were injured, but one reveler suffered minor cuts and bruises. Event organizers expressed dismay at the increasing frequency of kite-rage incidents in recent years, and were thankful today’s events took place so near the end of the three-day event.
In a separate, but related story, there are preliminary reports coming from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department which indicate Deputy Bernard VanderFifen, and his actions at today’s Kite Festival, will be the subject of an Internal Affairs Investigation to begin on Monday morning. VanderFifen has not responded to calls and emails from The Times, and is no longer at Coffee Grounds. It is not clear what specific actions may have triggered this Investigation, stay tuned to The Grand River Times as this story develops.