Even with gadgets that can take us anywhere and cool fancy toys that can do anything, there’s still a sense of timeless wonder and magic about kites. Technology can do mesmerizing and marvelous things, but there’s something to the analog joy of such simple elements – a string, some fabric and a breeze – pulling off the freeing miracle of flight.
"I think kites are one of those things that everybody’s fascinated with,” said Scott Fisher, owner of Gift of Wings aviation store. “We all flew kites as a kid, and some people went on and didn’t fly kites again for a long time – until, all of a sudden, somebody put a kite in their hand and that thrill of flying your first kite came back.”
Fisher aims to bring that thrilling sensation back to Milwaukeeans young and old this month with the return of the Wilde Subaru Family Kite Festival, taking to the sky above Veteran’s Park on Saturday, May 28 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. as well as Sunday, May 29 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. While the high-flying festival did return to the skies last year for a fall edition of the event, this year’s Family Kite Festival marks the first to take flight in early summer since 2019.
"It really feels good,” Fisher said. “There was an empty hole for us and I think for guests who came down to the park and expected it. Every year you have your own personal calendar – Summerfest is at a certain time, the State Fair is at a certain time. And the kite festival was at a certain time – and it was empty. So, for me and for folks who come every year, this is great.”
In addition to food, beverage and dessert in the area, this year’s soaring return to the clouds comes with several special events and demonstrations – starting, as is tradition, with the grand launch. Taking off at noon, the grand launch features hundreds upon hundreds of kites, from the classic to the complex, all taking to the sky at the same time. The soundtrack to this majestic moment? “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from “Mary Poppins,” of course.
For even more advanced aerodynamic entertainment, the Family Kite Festival will also feature performances from two professional teams – the Chicago Fire Kite Team and the Detroit Windjammers – flying their kites in synchronized routines.
"They fly their kites, each with two lines, in unison – sort of like the Blue Angels except with kites and to music,” Fisher explained. “It’s so much fun. These kites are going 50-60 miles per hour, but they’re controllable.”
As for flying one’s own cloud-scraping kite, attendees can bring their own kites to the festival or they can purchase one on site from the Gift of Wings shop found in the park. The event overall will feature everything from classic kites to giant ones shaped like octopi and other oddball flying figures taking to the sky, along with lessons for those brand new to the hobby as well as those wanting to hone their wind-catching capabilities.
No matter whether you’re an expert or an amateur, young or young at heart, the true star attraction of the Family Kite Festival is the mere act of flying a kite itself.
“It’s relaxing,” Fisher said. “You can go into a park and put a nice kite up into the air. It doesn’t matter how big it is or if it’s shaped like an octopus; it flies. And that’s magical. You sit in the grass, hold a string and it’s relaxing.”
And in these crazy hustling and bustling times, who could pass up a moment of sky-high serenity – maybe even shaped like a sea monster.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.