How the Cool Fool Kite Festival Took Off

Lets go fly a kite

Thirty-three years ago, Scott Fisher had just opened Gift of Wings, a lakeside kite shop in Veterans Park. And he found that fewer people stopped by when it was cold outside – even around holidays when schools and businesses were closed. So he decided to give them a little extra incentive in the form of a free kite-flying festival.

On the first day of each year, Fisher sets out trays of snacks and brews coffee and cocoa. He sells the kites that hang from the ceiling of his shop at steep discounts. And he invites sculptors to carve blocks of ice in the park while crowds ooh and aah over their work. 

And the festival really does draw crowds. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 below,” Fisher says. “We get people.”

He expects about 2,000 to brave the elements this year, many of them venturing over to Veterans Park before or after taking part in the Polar Bear Plunge at Bradford Beach. “I always say that there are only two things to do on New Year’s Day – go jump in the lake or go fly a kite.”

The Cool Fool Kite Festival takes place at Veterans Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 1. Admission is free and visitors can bring their own kites or buy ones from Gift of Wings. 



Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.