MILWAUKEE – After nearly 70 years, a well known Bay View tradition is coming to an end, at least temporarily.
The South Shore Frolics have been canceled for next year, the Bay View Lions Club announced Wednesday morning due to financial reasons.
The event has happened in South Shore Park every year except one, since 1948. But recently, the festival has run into some issues.
"It was always a family affair, it was good clean fun," said Jeff Wagner, a Bay View resident who has been coming to the festival for 50 years. "They had movies for the children, the fireworks were fantastic."
The Bay View Lions Club says it hasn't made a profit from the event the last three years.
“A number of our fixed costs continue to increase leaving us with no options except to suspend the Frolics for 2018,” said Bay View Lions Club president, Lyn Graziano in a news release. “Our basic costs from the city of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, and Milwaukee County Parks, as well as outside vendors, have risen to the point where it is extremely difficult to produce a profit — any profit."
Last year, they lost the permit for the well known "Blow up the Beach" fireworks finale, something the club believes hurt attendance.
Amy Mihelich lives in a historic Bay View home across the street from the festival. She says they would always stop by the event, but the fireworks damaged her home.
"On the night that the Blow up the Beach would happen, I would literally have things blow off my walls," she said.
But she also said she knows the Lions Club has worked very hard on the event and it's held for a good purpose.
"With that said, I believe the demographics in our neighborhood and in Bay View have changed dramatically and I think it’s time for the event to match the changing neighborhood," said Mihelich.
Graziano said they need "the public, local government officials and business leaders to work together with us to help bring the event back."
"Unless they all answer in the affirmative and work with us, the Frolics will join...other community festivals as former free summer events that are gone forever and our community will be worse off for it," Graziano said in a news release.
Alderman Zielinski who represents Bay View says its their choice to cancel the event, but he is looking in to how the city can be involved.
The 68-year-old event is traditionally held on the second full weekend in July in Bay View’s South Shore Park.
The event says it attracted 50,000-60,000 people each year and used to regularly attract more than 200,000 people in its early decades.
Since 1995, the Bay View Lions Club has hosted the three-day free event featuring music, an art show, a classic car show, food, family activities and their famous Frolics “atomic” fireworks to close each evening.
To read the Bay View Lions Club’s full statement on the event cancellation, click here.