Before a typical wedding, you’ll find the groom huddling with his best man, making sure his tux looks good, or perhaps welcoming guests or just waiting anxiously for things to get going.
Thirty minutes before his own nuptials on a recent Sunday, Tony Jetland was getting some of his big kites into the air, pulling lines, barking commands to his “team” of kite-flying friends, contending with strong winds.
“Do me a favor — roll it like a cigarette,” he said, referring to a kite on the ground. “Pull the rope, hand over hand — pull — PULL!” he shouted in an effort to get another one airborne.
One of those kites was a pink pig, perhaps 10 to 12 feet long, with white angel wings.
“Twenty years ago I made a smartass comment about getting married when pigs fly,” Jetland said. “Well, here we are …”
In the manner typical of a man who his now-wife and several friends described as non-traditional, Jetland — known to many as “The Kite Man of Martinez” — and Lorrie Kalos were married just as they had planned, under their two large dragon kites that flew above the green near the Martinez Marina.
It was a very public wedding, with the couple issuing a general invitation on “Martinez Rants and Raves,” a Facebook page popular in that city. About 200 family, friends and Facebook ravers turned out for Sunday’s ceremonies, officiated by Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder, his first time performing a wedding.
Why did he do it?
“Because I was asked,” he said. “And because he’s done so much for our city.”
Indeed, Jetland’s kites have become a beloved site at the marina, which is within Radke Martinez Regional Shoreline Park. He generally flies the kites once or twice a month there, and many other places in his capacity as a “global ambassador” with Seattle-based Prism Kite Technology. He travels the region and the world flying company kites; two places he’s been recently are Portsmouth, England and Copenhagen, Denmark.
A Minnesota native, the 58-year-old Jetland — a contractor by trade — has lived in Martinez for about 20 years, and flying kites all of that time at the marina. About five years ago, he said, he started flying double-line sports kites, capable of being maneuvered and guided in sometimes dramatic ways.
It was on a kite-flying Saturday at the marina — Aug. 25, 2018 — he met Lorrie Kalos.
“He introduced me to kite flying,” said Kalos, also 58, an assistant chief with the San Francisco Fire Department. The pair sat on a bench at the marina for hours that day talking, Jetland said. Eventually, Kalos proposed to Jetland, and he said yes.
Their wedding was originally going to be a more private affair, Kalos said, but that changed one day when Jetland floated a different idea: ‘Let’s get married under the shadow of the dragons,’ ” he said, a reference to two large kites he sometimes flies at the marina.
“All I wanted was cake,” Kalos said, chuckling.
And so it was, shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25 — one year and one hour after they first met — that Jetland and Kalos exchanged vows underneath the two large dragon kites, and near several other ones. Jetland wore a tuxedo featuring black shorts, complimented by a baseball cap; Kalos wore a more traditional short wedding dress. And there was cake under a nearby tent.
Wedding guests treasured the unusual nature of Sunday’s open-air ceremony. Said Dani Martinez-Thomas of Martinez, “It’s a passion (Jetland) wants to share on his wedding day. I’d say they both love to light up peoples’ lives.”
As for the kites, “It’s close to home for him, and it’s perfect,” said Dave Covell of San Lorenzo, a one-time neighbor of Jetland. “Tony’s not a traditional guy, and he stays close to what he loves.”
The couple said they will divide time between Jetland’s home “1.1 miles from the Martinez Marina” and Kalos’ Sonoma home. There will be plenty of kite flying, too, they vow. He appreciates that people love his kites, and often gives people a heads-up on Facebook on weekends he flies them.
But he’s clear that he flies kites primarily for his own enjoyment. And though he is certainly no shrinking violet, Jetland said he doesn’t mind playing second fiddle to the dragons, the trilobites (yes, the extinct marine arthropods), the flying pigs and the other airborne tethered objects that are the wind under this couple’s wings.
“Nobody knows me, but everybody knows the kites,” said Jetland.
“And that’s how I want it to be.”