Derek Montgomery

The warm weekend weather welcomed more than 80,000 guests from around the world to experience North America’s largest kite festival at the seventh annual Kites on Ice.

Kiters from around the United States, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, England and Belgium united on Lake Mendota and inside the Memorial Union to showcase their vibrant kites and skills.

This year’s theme, called “Sky Sports,” included outside events such as ground displays, synchronized flying shows, kite-flying lessons and kite boarding and skiing known as “power kiting.”

Power Kiting is an evolving extreme sport that has expanded the traditional downhill activity.

“The cool thing about kiting is that it opens up new places to ride at any time and age,” said Brian Schenck, owner of Ozone Snow and Power Kites. “Snow kiting is a perfect sport in Madison because there aren’t many mountains around.”

Schenck added that he will open Madison’s first snow kiting store within the next few months.

Events inside the Union included kite-flying performances, workshops, art exhibits and a lecture about the physics of ice given by University of Wisconsin emeritus professor of zoology John Magnuson.

Kites on Ice concluded Saturday with a “Fire and Ice” presentation, which displayed choreographed flights accompanied with music and fireworks.

Larry Day from Clear Lake, Iowa, displayed a $4,200 manta ray kite, which measured 32 feet by 100 feet.

“I’m at peace when I fly. It makes me smile, sets me apart and … I touch a lot of people and make them happy,” Day said.

Other kite designs included Aladdin, flowers, the American flag, Bucky Badger, a teddy bear and a robot.

Kites on Ice founder, Craig Wilson, said he feels the event is significant because it brings a shared sense of community to people of all ages in Madison and to kiters from around the world.

“[Kites on Ice] shows the public a new way to play and uses the beauty and resources that Madison has,” Wilson said. “It’s so wonderful to see cross-generational involvement on the ice, and it gives people a new appreciation of what we have here.”

Several UW students attending the event exclaimed their amazement at the kites.

“It was neat to see something so unique on the lake that I pass every day,” UW freshman Natalie LeVander said.

“[Kites on Ice] opened my eyes to a new hobby that I’ve never seen or heard about before,” UW junior Katy Addison said.

Hoofers also held their annual winter carnival on the ice and hosted broomball, golf, volleyball and sled racing games.

Wilson brought the idea of Kites on Ice to Madison after participating in international kiting festivals in Europe. He said he was shocked at the hundreds of thousands of people that congregated for these festivals and wanted to bring a piece of that to his home in Madison.

Madison Festivals, Inc. and the Wisconsin Union co-sponsored Kites on Ice. Madison Festivals, Inc. also coordinates the Mad City Run and Taste of Madison.