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Kites offered as goodwill gesture


If you were to tell John Willis to go fly a kite, he’d probably thank you for it.

Willis and his wife, Katherine, will present Emo’s reeve and council with a kite fashioned in the shape of life-sized bald eagle during the community’s centennial celebrations next week.

“It’s their town emblem,” Willis explained, noting his family already had donated two dove kites to Emo through their business in International Falls called “Kippewa Gardens.”

“It’s one of those things that fly on a pole or string in the air,” he said, noting they were the same dove kites flown at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Willis, who lives in Indus (just across the river from Emo) with his wife and three-year-old son, Gene, said a good relationship between the two communities goes back a long ways.

The gift of the kites was just their way of “recognizing the town,” he said, and be ambassadors of goodwill.

Kippewa Gardens even will be taking part in the centennial celebrations by sponsoring a “Fun Fly” on Friday, July 2 from noon to 4 p.m. and again Saturday, July 3 from 2-5 p.m.

Kids of all ages are invited to bring their kites out (be they homemade or store bought). For those who don’t have a kite, Willis will be bringing along several models to be rented out for the afternoon—with all proceeds going back to the centennial committee.

“There also will be an informal competition or judging of the kites brought in,” he noted. “We’ll come up with the categories at the time.”

Kippewa Gardens even will have about 10 colour-your-own bird kits to hand out for the kids—complete crayons, handles, and strings—to colour and fly on the Friday afternoon.

Willis and his family also are organizing and sponsoring the “Borderland Hi Fliers Kite Club” through their business, which is a member of the American Kitefliers Association.

Willis noted both Thunder Bay and Winnipeg have big kite flying competitions and conventions each summer, and some cities in the States fly kites all year round.

“Down in the Twin Cities, they have the ‘Frosty Fingers’ contest,” he said, which he would like to take a group of people down to eventually.

And with the average good kite costing about $25, kite flying is a relatively cheap—and relaxing—sport to get into.

“Kites are very beautiful things,” Willis said. “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like looking up and seeing a kite.”

You can view some of the kites Kippewa Gardens has on-line at

To see their full selection of kites, visit their store in International Falls just beside Stop and Shop. Just look for the bird kite flying along the street.

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