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Tradition canceled: Fireworks finale at South Shore Frolics silenced; some say how it happened is unfair

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MILWAUKEE -- A 40-year tradition has been canceled. The fireworks finale at the South Shore Water Frolics has been silenced. But one of the groups in charge of the popular event says how it happened is unfair.

If you've heard of the South Shore Water Frolics, chances are you've heard of "Blow Up The Beach" -- the fireworks finale.

Neighborhood near where South Shore Water Frolics take place

The fireworks finale can be seen from the beach -- but some say you can hear it and feel it across the surrounding area -- leading to complaints from neighbors. The complaints led to a vote two weeks ago to cancel that portion of the event.

Christine Kovach

Christine Kovach

"Very happy," Christine Kovach said.

Kovach was at the May 24th meeting involving the Bay View Lions Club, one of the groups behind the event, and neighbors like Kovach.

"The South Shore Frolics are right across the street," Kovach said.

Kovach wasn't expecting the topic of the fireworks finale to come up at the meeting, but said she is glad it did.

"I think it's too loud and it shakes our homes too much and I don`t think its necessary. A lot of people who have dogs and pets say that it really is problematic," Kovach said.

South Shore Water Frolics

South Shore Water Frolics

South Shore Water Frolics

South Shore Water Frolics

Other neighbors admit the noise can be a pain, but some said they can't imagine the event without its traditional finale.

"I love the 'Blow Up The Beach.' It kills me that it's going to go away. I hate that," Lora Hardin said.

"They`ll still have the fireworks -- they just won`t have the rapid explosion thing, which, I don`t think that matters at all," Andrew Shelp said.

South Shore Water Frolics

South Shore Water Frolics

Some say while the sentiment on both sides is understood, how this decision came about is still a bit cloudy.

"That part was kind of weird. It sounded like it happened really quickly and the people that actually wanted to voice their opinions for the 'Blow Up The Beach' didn`t get to have a say in it," Shelp said.

A spokesperson with the Lions Club says the meeting was supposed to be about adding an extra day to the event, which was in the end, decided against.

South Shore Water Frolics

South Shore Water Frolics

But then, Alderman Tony Zielinski opened up a discussion on the Frolics in general, which apparently "blindsided the Lions."

A vote followed -- with 60 opposed to the grand finale on Friday and Saturday nights, and 21 in favor.

The spokesperson said they feel those invited to the meeting in the first place were "arbitrary, selective and biased," and they're questioning the fairness of the vote.

South Shore Water Frolics

South Shore Water Frolics

Neighbors who were there say the meeting was widely publicized.

The Lions Club plans on having another meeting Tuesday, June 7th to discuss where to go from here.


  • Greg

    Twenty minutes a year and people crab about it. What next cancel the entire event because of the noise? Why not cancel the Big Bang on July third? That is noisy too.

    • amy

      Come on it’s one day?! Are we going to cancel Summerfest too now because last time I checked it’s drunkfest. Just deal with it. I swear people complain just to hear the sound of their own voice.

  • Laurie

    What a joke. Ppl just can’t see others enjoyment. Not like everyday happening. Sad how our world has becoming. Complain about the crime yet take away things that ppl enjoy. You ppl are sad. Seems like we all give into all the complainers anymore. Think about it. Just sad.

  • Erin

    I am born and bred in Bay View and I HATE the Frolics!!! It has turned into the biggest trash fest I have ever seen!! Not someplace I would take my kids to!! I can see where the neighbors, who pay $10,000+ in taxes would be a bit fed up!!! I for one would not appreciate my yard being used as a public urinal/dumping ground for trash or my patio furniture as a love nest!!! I could support a more family friendly festival- reinstating the parade, a family movie night, fish boil, concerts, and ONE night of fireworks!!! The way it is now, I would vote to cancel the entire thing!!!

    • itssunshinebaby

      Trash? Really??? Those are your neighbors! Your community! There is plenty things for the kids to do there. It is always the same group of people basically as always has been. There is just as much “trash” as you call it at State Fair Summerfest, Walmart, The streets of BV, Church festivals, anywhere in Milwaukee you go. The frolics is one of the better ones with REAL Bay View traditions FAMILY TRADITIONS, traditions kids will remember for a life time. It is better than the 3rd. When you go there how much “trash” is there? have morals and quit judging.

    • Laurie Reichl

      Really erin? If trash s that bad put out garbage cans for ppl. I see ppl do this by state fair and they deal with it much longer and oh they are not crying and complaining. You ppl who want to complain are just grumpy ass ppl who don’t have a life and think everyone should be miserable with you. Screw all of you. Hope Alderman don’t get in next vote. Catering to all the dam cry babies. 😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢

    • Aaron

      I live in Bay View right by South Shore Park and have been going to the fireworks for 40+ years. Sure the parking is rough for those 3 days, and the festival is trashy (mostly referring to the people)… But it is a very long running tradition and one of the things that makes Bay View what it is. I wish i knew about a vote, its a shame so small amount of people can ruin things with a bit of whining. I say if you don’t like Bay View, don’t move there, you can boil your fish somewhere else, let us fry that fish and blow up the beach.

  • Christine

    @Christine Kovach needs to go crawl back in her hole. It’s once a freaking year. I swear, pathetic, homely people can’t stand to see others happy. Like she never went to fireworks as a kid? What a shame.

  • Bob

    Maybe we should change the National Anthem to:

    “And the rockets’ had no glare, the bombs quietly didn’t go off and our pets weren’t disturbed,
    Gave proof thro’ the night that our American is no longer here.”

  • Cory

    Well I’m sorry you don’t like it maybe you should move to the country where it is much quieter, but like it says this has been a 40 year tradition, when you moved in you most likely knew that this was a once a year thing that goes on for about 2 to 3 days now our children can’t even enjoy what we were able to enjoy as kids

  • Drummer Girl

    Widely publicized meeting or not, was this item specifically on the agenda for discussion? If not, that was an illegal meeting. As someone who was born and raised in Bay View, not one of the newer breed, nose-in-the-air residents-frankly I’m pissed about this decision.

  • Klaatu

    Sounds to me like someone has a kickmutt that pi$$es the carpet at every loud noise………….or else the shaking makes it difficult to stuff twinkies in the piehole………….

  • Connie S.

    I think it’s really sad that you chose to move into a house where you know that this celebration happens once a year. I grew up with the Frolics and it has always been one of the best shows of the year. If you don’t like it then go buy a house somewhere else. Wouldn’t matter where you live, you’s probably think of something to complain about in a quiet neighborhood as well. Really sad that you can ruin something that brings fun to so many!

  • Pamela Woppert

    Talk about a old fuddy duddy (Christine Kovach)!!! You are like the Scrooge & the Grinch at Christmas time rolled into one!! It’s been a tradition for years and all you can say is, “I think it’s too loud and it shakes our homes too much and I don`t think its necessary.” Why is it that a few people ruin it for the majority? Nice going Ms. Crotchety Crotch!!!!

    • ctneary

      Curious if this woman was not aware of the frolics when she purchased her home. Just like people who buy a house near the airport and then complain about the noisy airplanes. MOVE!

  • itssunshinebaby

    I am sad and angry. The Frozlics holds many of the best memories since I was a little girl. Blowing up the beach and the frolics have now became tradition for my own kids. It is what every true Bay View (and surrounding areas) wait for every summer. Blowing up the beach is the trademark, it makes them better than any other fireworks in the city. A hidden gem even in a sense. Please reconsider. At least let more people vote. Why was this even brought up? The people whom live there can not deal with 20 mins a year between 2 days? The fireworks will still shake a house or scare an anxious dog regardless.

  • Jim

    I am a former long time bay view resident now retired and living up north and I too remember all the good times with the family at the frolics throughout the years. How sad when I saw on the news about the fireworks. Even sadder was how the ever so popular Alderperson had a hand in ruining this great event and the way he and the other newer ‘progressive’ residents of the area had to resort to the usual tricks used these days to get their way and force their personal agendas on the rest. If there is a petition to reverse this farce I, and my family, would gladly sign it to help out. Remember one very important thing; keep this in mind when these elected ‘representatives of the community’ come up for reelection! Best wishes to the frolics!

  • Eliza

    That’s terrible news. I was just telling friends about this awesome tradition…it was unique to other displays in the area. We can see fireworks anywhere all summer but this stood out and was an exciting tradition. I understand that it’s something that neighbors may not like but it’s two nights out of the year. You know it’s coming so prepare yourself, your family, and your pets if it’s a concern and stop being a kill-joy over a 40 YEAR tradition. People are just too grumpy about everything these days.

  • Joe

    Ha Ha u old saggy hags they will blow up the beach ! ! ! Why dont u f*****g pansies go hide in ur basements w a helmet and pads on w ur ears covered. Too loud for your dog well f*** ur little p**** @$$ dog!

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