Let’s Go Fly a Kite!
BY: RACHEL WUMKES
National Kite Month is organized by the American Kite fliers Association. It is meant to help promote one of the worlds favorite pastimes. April was chosen for National Kite month, as it is a month which perfectly symbolizes hope, potential and joy.
It’s rather fitting with the onset of Spring and the Earth coming back to life after the long, dormant winter. Flowers begin to bloom. Birds chirp as they happily build new nests. Squirrels poke their heads from their warm tree trunks to begin looking for food.
As April is the first full official month of the spring season, it is when most kite fliers are starting to bring their kites out of the closet and dust them off for the summer term ahead.
Except for those kite fliers who attended Color the Wind this past February in Clear Lake.
Do y’all remember that day?
It was just… woah.
Cars lined I-35 coming from both directions, backed up for miles as they patiently waited for their turn to exit, hoping to catch a glimpse of the vibrant colors floating high above our frozen lake.
Remember that final scene from Field of Dreams after James Earl Jones tells Kevin Costner “People will come, Ray,” and you see a trail of headlights in the distance?
That. It was just like that.
Thousands of people flocked to our mid-sized tourist town smack dab in the heart of the Midwest for this event. And when I say thousands, I mean upwards of 40,000 people.
Came to Color the Wind.
Now, I know for all the full-time residents of Clear Lake, this sort of massive influx of people can be disruptive to everyday life. I get it. Working around the crowds is a hassle. However, here are a few fun facts from the day to help you understand why we do what we do!
- Total economic impact was $1.7 million dollars, with $1.02 million of that coming from visitors outside of North Iowa (info based on ITIP economic impact calculator developed by CyBiz Labs at ISU)
- The North Iowa Children’s Museum raised just over $6,000 for their first fundraising event, held just prior to the main event. The donuts, story time and kite activity and wind tunnel were a HUGE hit!
- Website traffic to clearlakeiowa.com hit an all-time daily high of 14,000 page views. The previous record was 8900 on July 4th.
- Restaurants and retail shops were packed. Some reported having record sales that day.
At the Visitor Center, people stopped in (likely to soak up a bit of our warmth) and gather information on Clear Lake. For many, it was their first visit to town. Our award-winning visitor guide, Destination Clear Lake, flew off the shelves at a record pace.
Here are a few of the entries from our guest book that day. We had people sign in from Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, and even one from Florida! It’s exciting to see such a great response from people who came to visit.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll come back to visit this summer. Maybe they’ll want to stay forever!
“First time here and it is cold out!” – Missouri Valley, IA
“So excited to be back to enjoy the kites!” Chillicothe, MO
“Love this event, will return!” Westgate, IA
“Always enjoy the kites – grandkids too!” Albion, IA
Awesome! We will be back.” Albert Lea, MN
“Really fun & colorful experience,” Waterloo, IA
“We had fun!” Girl Scout Troop from Dunlap, IA
“Love Clear Lake!” Westmont, IL
“Incredible town!” Jensen Beach, FL
“Enjoyed the festival!” Oglesby, IL
“Was a great family experience, most definitely will be back.” Marshalltown, IA
But it wasn’t just the spectators who had a great time at this event – our kiters had a blast, too!
In fact, 100% of them stated in their event survey that they would recommend Color the Wind to other kiters. Here are a few of the comments we received from the kite fliers themselves.
“Just thank you so much for carrying on the tradition. Very proud to fly in Color the Wind.”
“Clear Lake is a very powerful, uplifting event, with some of the strongest diehard kiters in the Midwest sharing their passion for their love of kites. I feel like we DO make a difference.”
“What an awesome job organizing this event! Thank you for your hospitality and the ability to share our hobby with your community.”
They were also asked to list their favorite aspect of Color the Wind. Top answers were:
- Warm welcome of the community
- Fantastic venue
- City hospitality
- Meeting all the people
- Seeing the sky full of kites!
I think it’s safe to say we hit this one out of the ballpark, friends. Color the Wind was a fantastic event all around, and I cannot wait until next year! Let’s all keep our fingers crossed for cold, cold, and more cold temperatures next February!
This April, as the breezes begin to blow in the warmer weather from the south – go fly a kite! Really. That’s it. It’s that simple to celebrate National Kite Month.