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Hundreds camp out ahead of Veterans Park fireworks

Posted at 10:22 PM, Jul 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-03 10:47:40-04

MILWAUKEE -- It's a tradition special to Milwaukee; camping out for the U.S. Bank fireworks at Veterans Park.

"The tradition probably started about 40 years ago," Scott Fisher, Owner of Gift of Wings said. "Maybe 35 to 40 years ago. It's one of those, probably Milwaukee only traditions that keeps going on and on. A lot of the same people come down year after year. It's probably one of the most unique things in the country."

Hundreds of folks came out early Sunday morning to stake their claim so they could get a prime viewing spot for Monday night's fireworks. 

"We came here every year and in this same exact spot," Jamie Brown of Waukesha said. "We started out with no tents to now tents and camping."

"We come to this spot every year," Michael Johnson of Milwaukee said. "It's the best view."

"There is a little divot in the ground there," Kristy Pfenning of Milwaukee said. "We've been here for four years."

For Pfenning, the celebration isn't like Christmas in July but rather, Christmas is like the 3rd of July in December. 

"If you're not here, it's a big deal," Pfenning said. "This is the biggest holiday for our family. If you're not at Christmas, oh it's ok. If you're not at the third of July, it's a big deal. You better be here. It's huge."

The unique experience is hard for some to understand. Camping in the shadows of skyscrapers may not really be "camping" to some people. But for those who make this an annual tradition, it's one they wouldn't trade for the world. 

"I came here as a kid and I came here before I had kids," Tammy Knapton of South Milwaukee said. "It's a tradition and not something you get to do very often."

Knapton's six-month-old daughter, bouncing on her leg as she reminisces of the time she's spent here. She knows before long, her daughter will be the one in her place. 

"It's pretty special," Knapton said. "She'll get to experience this stuff for the first time. As they grow, they continue it on. They look forward to it every year."