BAY VIEW — As America honored those who have given their lives for our country on Memorial Day, the holiday Monday, May 25 also marked the unofficial start to a summer that will be unlike any other amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed nearly 100,000 lives in a several months’ span. In Milwaukee, the COVID-19 pandemic provided a contrasting color — with people enjoying life on what is a day of somber remembrance.
Up and down Milwaukee’s lakeshore, people enjoyed sunshine and temperatures in the 80s — with the pandemic on the minds of many. A light breeze greeted groups of people spread about at South Shore Park in Bay View — from families playing in the water, to couples lounging in the shade, with the smell of burning coals wafting from a distant barbecue.
“We live right nearby here, and this is the largest number of people we’ve seen at the beach all summer, so far,” said Gerry Sedmak.
Gerry and Denise Sedmak donned masks on their second walk of the day — very aware of the reality of the world. Denise works in health care, and Gerry is a retired chief virologist for the City of Milwaukee Health Department.
“For me, I think the proper decision is to be cautious about what’s going on,” said Gerry Sedmak.
“Everyone’s going to look at it differently,” said Denise Sedmak.
Meanwhile, Bradford Beach was bumping with beachgoers. Time passed slowly as people paddled about Veterans Park Lagoon.
“No one’s really coming up to us and trying to talk to us,” said Tyra Buckley of Wauwatosa. “Well, except for you guys.”
“But we welcome this conversation,” said Alitza Klepperich.
The two friends held court in the shade — away from others.
“I’m more concerned about other people, and spreading it to others, whereas I’m not worried about getting sick myself,” said Klepperich.
Buckley is a waitress in Milwaukee’s Third Ward — out of work for several months due to COVID-19 related closures.
“I’m OK with being off for a little bit longer because I definitely think that, especially like, everyone’s out,” said Buckley. “There’s probably at least one person that has it.”
Both said they remain apprehensive about crowds.
“But I’m also happy that there’s that balance between, ‘We still have to protect ourselves, and understand that this happened, but we’re also able to go out and enjoy the weather,'” said Klepperich.