Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson welcomed the New Year at City Hall by ringing the Solomon Juneau bell at midnight on December 31.
The old custom was revived on New Year’s Eve 2016-17 by former Mayor Tom Barrett, after being inspired by the nonprofit Bells of Milwaukee, to send a message of peace. The longstanding tradition had lapsed for many years.
The bell is located in the City Hall clock tower, about 300 feet above the street. It was cast from spare fire bells produced for the City by the local firm of G. Campbell and Sons.
The massive 20,000 pound bell, named after one of the City’s founders, first chimed at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1895-96. Two of Milwaukee’s most prominent churches, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, and the Basilica of St. Josaphat, also have the tradition to ring their bells at midnight.
Mayor Johnson was joined by Jerel Austin Ballard, founder of the Finest Scholarship Foundation. Assisting with the bell ringing were two scholarship recipients for 2021, Marquette University students William Holmes, a Rufus King High School graduate, and Joshua Wilder, a Riverside High School graduate. Only a small handful of people have ever had the opportunity to ring the bell.