For the third year consecutive, Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 partnered with the City of Milwaukee to host the Big Truck Day on May 18 at Red Arrow Park.

The free public event provided a unique and exciting opportunity for local children and families to explore an array of big rigs from the Department of Public Works, Milwaukee Fire Department, and Milwaukee Police Department.

The sunny weather created a festive atmosphere that welcomed a large crowd eager to participate in the day’s activities. Attendees of Big Truck Day had the chance to get an up-close look at various trucks and equipment, including fire engines, police cruisers, and public works vehicles.

“Big Truck Day is one of our favorite events for families,” said Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown BID #21. “It’s the perfect opportunity to educate kids on the City’s equipment and jobs, while also giving employees and officers a chance to interact with local youth and inspire them to pursue careers in public works.”

Children were thrilled to climb into the driver’s seat of the massive machines, gaining firsthand experience of what it felt like to be at the helm of such powerful vehicles. The hands-on mechanical exploration was designed to spark curiosity and excitement among the youth.

In addition to climbing on the big rigs, kids had the unique opportunity to meet the professionals who operated them. Firefighters, police officers, and public works employees were present to answer questions, share insights about their jobs, and provide live demonstrations of the equipment in action.

The presentations were both entertaining and educational, offering a glimpse into the essential roles that the workers play in maintaining the city’s infrastructure and safety.

Big Truck Day also featured a variety of family-friendly activities. Artists Working in Education (A.W.E.) hosted arts and crafts sessions, providing kids the space to unleash their creativity and make their own masterpieces.

The Milwaukee Public Library’s Bookmobile was also on-site, offering an experience for children to browse and borrow books. Free face painting and bubble playtime provided additional entertainment.

This year’s event was the chance for families to pose with the beloved “Hero Pup.” The friendly, costumed character was a favorite among the children, who eagerly lined up for a chance to snap a picture and receive a high-five from the Hero Pup.

Coinciding with Big Truck Day was the start of National Public Works Week, celebrated from May 19 to May 25. The City of Milwaukee, along with the American Public Works Association and community members, took this opportunity to recognize the significant contributions of the Department of Public Works.

National Public Works Week highlights the dedication of public works professionals who deliver essential municipal services, and design and maintain the City’s infrastructure. The services are crucial to sustainable and resilient communities and the health and well-being of Milwaukee’s residents.

The theme for 2024 National Public Works Week was “Advancing Quality of Life for All,” providing essential services that contribute to healthier, happier, and more vibrant communities. The week-long celebration, now in its 64th year, continues to educate the public on the importance of public works and the programs that support their communities.

In recognition of the efforts, Mayor Cavalier Johnson issued a proclamation which read in part, “National Public Works Week celebrates the public works professionals who are dedicated to delivering municipal services, designing and maintaining the City’s infrastructure, and providing safe drinking water, which is of vital importance to sustainable and resilient communities and to the health, high quality of life, and well-being of the people of Milwaukee.”

Mayor Johnson’s proclamation highlighted the critical roles the professionals have in maintaining the city’s infrastructure, including water treatment and distribution, street lighting, urban canopy maintenance, public buildings and bridges upkeep, solid waste and recycling services, stormwater management, snow and ice control, and fleet maintenance.

The Mayor expressed his gratitude to every member of the Department of Public Works for their numerous contributions to the community.

“The vast services the city receives could not be provided without the dedicated efforts of the public works professionals responsible for rebuilding, improving, and protecting our City’s infrastructure,” said Mayor Johnson.

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Lee Matz