For 36 years the goats grazing on Al Johnson’s roof in Sister Bay have attracted thousands of tourists, but very few know the story behind them.
According to Al Johnson’s Web site, the now-famous tradition actually started as a practical joke. In 1973, when the restaurant building was renovated, grass was planted on the roof to follow a Scandinavian custom that started with rural houses built into hills. That same year, Al Johnson’s friend Winkie Larson bought him a goat named Oscar, and later decided to play a joke on Al. He was in the process of climbing a ladder to Al’s roof, with Oscar tucked under his arm, when the goat started kicking so hard that Winkie fell and broke his collarbone. On his second attempt, however, Winkie was successful, and ended up starting a tradition that will no doubt last for many more decades to come.