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‘People will be pretty upset:’ Lakefront fireworks need new backer for show to go

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MILWAUKEE -- Will Milwaukee's tradition of fireworks on July 3 continue this year? It's the question many are wondering as the Milwaukee County Parks Department races against the clock to find a sponsor before April 1.

"It's a staple. It's such a cultural thing," said Tony Meister, lives in Milwaukee.

Lakefront fireworks

It's one of Milwaukee's most popular summer events. An early Independence Day celebration filled with fireworks on the lakefront on July 3.

Lakefront fireworks

"It's a big deal. It's an awesome show," said Meister.

Without a sponsor, the fireworks may not return in 2019.

"We're still seeking a sponsor to take responsibility and take pride in something that the community has always loved," said Jay Burseth, Milwaukee County Parks Department.

This comes after U.S. Bank announced the 2018 fireworks were their last. Now, the parks department has one month to find a sponsor to cover the $350,000 event.

"As an organization we've always been prepared for this, it was not our ideal scenario," Burseth said.

Lakefront fireworks

The show has gone on for decades, where thousands of families head to Veterans Park to watch. Those people say the show must go on.

"I think if they do find a sponsor, that sponsor is going to be a hero," Meister said.

"It will be a big impact on that one. People will be pretty upset actually," said Matthew Griffin, lives in Milwaukee.

While no one has stepped up yet, county park officials are still feeling optimistic a business will step up.

"We are still hopeful that someone will come forward that some business will come forward," Burseth said.

Jay Burseth

If the deadline approaches and no sponsor has come forward, county parks officials say they'll have to reassess the show -- but for now, they're hoping for the best.

"You are going to make a lot of smiley faces around the 4th of July if you sponsor this," Meister said.

To partially pay for clean-up and security at Veterans Park, Milwaukee County Parks charged a parking fee on July 3, but for many other area businesses the event provided a big boost in business from ticketed dinners, cruises and viewing events.

The deadline to find a sponsor is April 1. If you or someone is interested in donating to this effort, all tax deductible sponsorships and donations would go to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation-Parks Fund. Interested donors should contact Jay Burseth at 414-257-8043 or

Lakefront fireworks

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