This weekend: The fish will fly on Catalina Island

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The sand castle display at the 2008 festival, the inaugural event (Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce)

Catalina Island, 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, plays host to thousands of flying fish every May through September. To celebrate these finned friends, the island is throwing the second annual Flying Fish Festival this weekend.

Festivities begin Thursday and last through Sunday, with lots of family-friendly fare. The schedule includes a street fair with theater performances, a professional sand sculpture display, touch tanks with local specimens, and all kinds of competitions: a kayak relay race, a sling shot competition, and peddle boat races. The four-day feat is capped off with a parade on Sunday.

If you want to get up close to the flying fish, take a nighttime boat tour. The fish, which can soar 30 feet in the air for distances up to a fourth of a mile, are often seen best in the dark, lured by lights from the boat.

Catalina Island, at 76 square miles, is a summer vacation destination for Californians. Fun fact: William Wrigley Jr. (of chewing gum fame) bought the island in 1919 sight unseen—based on reports of how lovely it is. With rocky hills and blue waters, Catalina has an almost Mediterranean feel.

Visit catalinachamber.com or call 866/772-9592 for more info. Most activities free. Boat tours are $21 for adults and $16 for kids; reservations recommended.

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