After four decades, Milwaukee could lose one of its most popular summer events along Lake Michigan.

The U.S. Bank Fireworks display has drawn tens of thousands of visitors annually to Milwaukee’s lakefront for an early Independence Day celebration on July 3, but without a major new backer confirmed by April 1, the event may not return in 2019.

While the fireworks show is not put on by Milwaukee County Parks, they host viewers in Veterans Park each year, an event that has brought all of Milwaukee together at the lakefront for a family-friendly event that unites our community.

Last February, U.S. Bank announced that the 2018 display would be their last. The 45-minute show, launched from two barges on Lake Michigan, costs around $350,000 to put on, and currently, no local businesses have committed to sponsoring the full cost of the event.

“U.S. Bank, and before them, First Wisconsin, have generously organized and funded the July 3 fireworks show for nearly 40 years; and heading down to Veterans Park to watch the fireworks has become an annual tradition for many Wisconsin families,” said Guy Smith, Executive Director at Milwaukee County Parks. “After their announcement last year, we immediately began talks with area businesses with the hope of keeping this great tradition alive, but now time is running out, and there’s a real possibility that the July 3 fireworks display may not return.”

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.

There remains time for businesses or donors interested in saving this Milwaukee tradition to get involved, and all tax deductible donations would go to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation-Parks Fund.

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Lee Matz