MILWAUKEE — Despite continued messaging to maintain social distance, big crowds are forming daily at Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach.
Tuesday night, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Deputies had to break up a fight there as large groups of teenagers watched.
“How do you not get mad as a mom?” asked Tanya Calderon.
Wednesday is the second day in a row that Calderon has tried to find a safe spot for her young children to play at Bradford Beach.
“It has been so chaotic,” she said. “But what can we do? We have to bring our kids somewhere.”
Louise Bear feels the same way. She brought her three kids to Bradford beach on Tuesday and Wednesday as well.
“It’s so hard to keep them cooped up inside on a hot day,” Bear said. “Usually, we go to the pools in Wauwatosa, but they aren’t opening this summer. We have been trying to find other places to be outside safely. We come to the beach early, and try to leave before it gets too busy. It’s amazing to see how many people gather here and don’t care.”
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“My mom tries to get us out as much as she can,” said Bear’s daughter, Angel. “We usually go on bike rides and stuff. We try to keep a distance from everyone, and wear masks if we’re in proximity to anyone else.”
Bear and Calderon bring hand sanitizer to the beach, and teach their kids how to keep a six foot distance. But they can’t control how others handle themselves.
“You can't even drive down Lincoln Memorial Drive on these nice days,” said Calderon. “The parking lots and sidewalks are packed, people are hanging out of their cars, and are body to body on the beach. It’s not like any of them are washing their hands, because the bathrooms aren’t open.”
Then, there’s the issue of garbage. Tuesday’s crowd at Bradford Beach, left behind a lot of it.
“There was so much trash laying around,” Bear said.
“There were masks on the ground,” Calderon said. “There were people eating, and just throwing their stuff on the ground. We have to walk over bottles, and cigarettes. It’s ridiculous.”
The coronavirus pandemic has tightened Milwaukee County’s budget and prompted a hiring freeze, so there are less workers to help clean up.
Seeing Bradford Beach with so many people, and very few of them in masks, is concerning for Milwaukee’s Health Commissioner.
“We have behaviors that are just autopilot,” said Dr. Jeanette Kowalik. “It’s nice outside, lets go to the beach. We really have to work on reprogramming or educating people on how to do it in a safe way.”
She says city and county leaders are working on how to best do that.