Lake Park kicked off its annual 4th of July festival with the theme “Working for a better United States of America.”

The 106th annual event, one of the oldest Independence Day celebrations in Milwaukee, started the morning with parades of Eastside families from Maryland Avenue School and Hartford Avenue School. The sea of people merged before heading into historic Lake Park.

The traditional festivities included ice cream, bike and buggy decorating contests, and various games. Master of ceremonies for the talent contest was the PBS “Around the Corner” host John McGivern, who grew up on the Eastside. McGivern shared his memories of attending the Lake Park 4th when he was a little boy, from the joy of ice cream to the excitement of the bike decorations. Celebrity judges were singer Robin Pluer, Ted Perry of WITI Channel 6, and radio personality Carole Caine.

Along with a proclamation from the Mayor, in recognition of service by the event’s organizers over the past 50 years, Alderman Nik Kovac reminded the crowd of thousands about his comments from the recent Juneteenth Day. His point was to talk about the end of slavery in 4th of July speeches, so as not to forget that the Independence Day celebration of freedom must be applied equally to all America’s citizens.

These images feature highlights from the festival’s activities, which concluded later in the evening with music and a lakefront fireworks show.

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Lee Matz