Bastille Days changes footprint to accommodate Milwaukee Streetcar

Eiffel Tower will move to park grounds
Posted at 4:37 PM, Jan 25, 2018

A popular downtown event will have to re-arrange this summer, now that the streetcar tracks are down.

Organizers for Bastille Days they are shifting the layout of the beloved French festival that runs July 12-15.

The Milwaukee Streetcar won't be fully operational until the end of the year, testing will be taking place during the summer.

"It’s just a little bit of shuffling you know kind of a three-block radius over to Wells," said Kim Morris, the executive director of the East Town Association, who hosts Bastille Days every year. "We’re hoping people will feel it will be a bit more intimate."

Morris says they went through about 20 different footprints before settling on this one. The new layout means more vendors will set up on Wells Street, less of Kilbourn Avenue will be closed off, and the Eiffel tower will be in the park now, instead of on the street.

"We obviously want to make it very cohesive to the businesses and also making sure people can get in and out of the parking lots," Morris said.

Erica Elia owns Classy Girl Cupcakes on Jefferson Street. She says the new layout means she will have to adjust too, to find the best way for staff to access her store during the festival.

"Bastille Days is literally right outside our front door so it’s great business for us," she said. "We’ll just figure out the logistics of that coming in from a different street. We’ll figure it out, we’ll make it work."

And with snow still on the ground, the warm sights of Bastille Days can't come soon enough.

"It’s 37 years for us now and even changing a little bit, everybody’s so used to having things a certain way," Morris said. "I think that’s going to be the biggest and most exciting change."

The route for the Storm the Bastille race won't change under this new plan. By next year's Bastille Days, the streetcar will be up and running and organizers say they're excited to see how that helps bring people to the festival.