Category Archives: South Milwaukee

Crusherfest is Here: The Story of a Statue, and a Community Coming Together

It takes a city to build a statue.

And more than anything, that’s what I love most about the effort to erect the Crusher statue in downtown South Milwaukee — that it inspired a community to work together toward a singular goal worthy of a great man.

I saw it as Chris Smith first approached a few of us at City Hall with this crazy idea, expecting we might see this day come 10 or 20 years from now, not less than 24 months later.

I saw it shortly after the idea went public and viral, and hundreds of people donated for the statue in days, often $5, $10, $25 at a time, and a couple — including South Milwaukee’s own Molthen-Bell & Son Funeral Home — coming in at $10,000.

I saw it as momentum built around getting this done, and this formerly crazy idea from our city attorney quickly became real, as in, “South Milwaukee is really going to get a Crusher statue … how ’bout that?”

I saw it with the Lisowski family, who has been so supportive as this has ramped up, and remain so today.

I saw it as South Milwaukee native Beth Sahagian, sculptor Tom Holleran and the team at Vanguard Sculpture Services eagerly took on the project — with their work of art to be unveiled today for the world, and generations to come, to enjoy.

I saw it as we began work on figuring out where to put the statue, settling on a city-owned parking lot that 100 years ago was Depot Park, a community gathering place that will again proudly used that way again, right in the middle of our successful weekly farmers’ market.

I saw it as Crusherfest plans started to take shape, as Chris Smith and Crusher Foundation supporters started work on organizing an event worthy of the “Wrestler Who Made Milwaukee Famous.”

I saw it as the site plan progressed and buildout began, as the transformation from a soul-less patch of asphalt to what you see today went from idea to reality in about four weeks — a remarkable feat that only happened due to the hard work of dozens of volunteers, our city engineer, and companies like Butch Miller Construction, Kujawa Enterprises Inc. and EK Construction.

I see it today, as dozens of volunteers, local businesses and organizations step up to put on this event and make this day even more special.

Indeed, today this big bet on our proud past and promising future pays off with a beautiful, bold and lasting tribute to our most famous native son, someone who was the epitome of the traits that continue to make South Milwaukee such a special place.

Hard work. Dedication. Community pride. Kindness. Family first. Fun.

We have a terrific story to tell in South Milwaukee, one that is uniquely ours and absolutely authentic. Da Crusher is a part of that, and we proudly celebrate him, his family and everyone who made this happen both today and in the years ahead as every fan who visits this new local landmark shares their Crusher photo with the world.

We, as a city, united behind a big idea in a way that not many communities would. We wrote this chapter of our story, together, and today we share it with the world.

I can’t be prouder to say … This is Crusher Country!

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In Town for Crusherfest? Welcome! Here Are 10 Things to do Before You Leave, or on Your Next Trip to South Milwaukee

Thousands of people are headed to Crusherfest this weekend, and that’s incredibly exciting for our city.

If you’re new to South Milwaukee, welcome! And if you’ve been here before, welcome back!

Here are 10 things to do while you’re in town … and anytime of the year, really. Let’s go, turkeynecks!

  1. Visit Grant Park. From the terrific Seven Bridges urban nature trail to the bustling beach area — including burgers, custard and beer at Ferch’s Beachside — to the county’s oldest golf course, this iconic park is a community treasure. Discover it for yourself this weekend.
  2. Check out the Crusher display at the South Milwaukee Library. Get a look at a teenage Reginald Lisowski in old South Milwaukee High School yearbooks, and see old newspaper clippings, programs, and other items from his professional wrestling career, thanks to this partnership with MEARS Monthly Auctions. The library, 1907 10th Ave., is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and weekdays.
  3. Work off that turkey leg. Bike or walk (or drive) the Oak Creek Parkway, with a stop at the Mill Pond, site of the former mill, around which our city was born. On Sunday, join a walking tour — “Suburban Soles — Nature Thru the Lens,” observing nature through photography, starting at 10 a.m. at Grant Park Area 5.
  4. Eat local. Get on Yelp for a list of our local restaurants. From authentic local Mexican, Chinese, Italian and Jamaican food to gastropub and American staples to sausage to rolled ice cream, there are a lot of local dining options to consider, after you check out the vendors at Crusherfest, of course (many of which come from South Milwaukee, including Azteca Restaurant and Milwaukee Gourmet House, China Chef and The Tap Room). Pro tip: Try the garlic bread at Barbiere’s Italian Inn South Milwaukee, just feet from the statue.
  5. Drink local. Start your day with a coffee at my favorite local coffeehouse, and then try our very underrated collection of bars in South Milwaukee, from sports bars like Moran’s Pub and The Tap Room, to neighborhood taps like Slick Willie’s and Tracker’s Pub & Grub. Pro tip: While at Moran’s, say hello to Milwaukee’s Most Okay-est Bartender. Then stop by Van Eimeren-Kolonka American Legion Post #27 for a drink — and thank a veteran.
  6. Shop local. Check out some of our terrific local retailers. You’ll see some at Crusherfest itself, including Gecko Leatherworks and Milwaukee Sausage Co., but there are plenty of others on Milwaukee Avenue on beyond. Stained glass? Yep. Award-winning jewelry? Check. Local flowers (hello, Parkway Floral and Mari’s Flowers)? Absolutely. Military collectibles, disc golf supplies, local art and game stores? Sure. (We have two game stores, Pink Bunny Games and Board Game Barrister.) Disc golf accessories, at Acetime? Of course. A terrific locally owned Ace Hardware? Indeed. Our small retailers are the backbone of South Milwaukee — see for yourself. (And be sure to buy tickets to the upcoming South Milwaukee Garden Tour when you’re at the flower shops.)
  7. Take a trip to the past, with a drive through the historic Grant Park neighborhood. Some of my favorite homes in the city can be found along Fairview, Hawthorne and Emerson Avenues. Our oldest homes — and oldest church and cemetery — are near Fairview and Hawthorne.
  8. Bless your dog. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1314 Rawson Ave., is hosting Bark’s at St. Mark’s on Sunday, with a church service starting at 9 a.m. Details here. Then head to Crusherfest for the polka mass!
  9. Attend a Crusherfest after party. It’s on Saturday night at Borak Entertainment, our new nightclub, just a block from the statue, where you may also be able to get a dance lesson or two.
  10. Take in the market, and a show (next time). OK, there aren’t any public performances this weekend at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, but I can’t leave this off a “must-do” list in South Milwaukee. We are rightfully proud of our PAC, and you can see why with their recently announced 2019-20 season. More details here. And I must plug the South Milwaukee Downtown Market, held every Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. into October, at Crusher Plaza. Check out more than 40 vendors, grab dinner, listen to weekly live music and get a picture with Da Crusher! We take live outdoor music seriously in South Milwaukee, too …


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Headlines: Crusher Edition

The media coverage around Crusherfest continues to amaze. Here are some of the headlines from the past week or so …

And here are some other local headlines, including a South Milwaukee connection to the freeway-closing police standoff in Oconomowoc …

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Powder Puff Football: Fun Game, For a Great Cause

I had the pleasure of meeting of meeting Frieda Abosovski recently, and she told me about this terrific fundraiser in honor of former Rocket student-athlete Albert Nazifi. It’s open to the public, so please check it out!

More details on the inspiring story here …

More details here ..

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Watershed Plan Update: Key Chapter 4 Draft, on Water Quality, Coming Soon

From the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission …

In 2019 SEWRPC staff continue to make progress on the plan, with work continuing on Chapter 4—Inventory Findings.  The Chapter will include an extensive review and analysis of all available surface water quality data, which will be evaluated in light of our completed field observations in 2016 and 2017.  Chapter 4 also will include a summary history of the mill pond and dam, an inventory of the biological data, channel conditions, and a habitat assessment for the streams in the watershed, and an estimate of pollutant loadings to the stream.  The Chapter provides a historic and “existing conditions” assessment of the Oak Creek watershed which will lay the groundwork for recommendations and strategies for restoration, which will be presented in Chapter 6 of the plan. 

The SEWRPC staff anticipate the next Advisory Group meeting to review Chapter 4 sections to be in fall 2019.

More details on the ongoing work here.


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Wanted: Feedback on the Future of Senior Services in South Milwaukee

From Milwaukee County, following the closure of Interfaith …

Eras Senior Network, a community based nonprofit organization, is providing interim support services to the Neighborhood Outreach Program (NOP) in Milwaukee County. The Board of Directors of Eras thanks all community stakeholders for their input as we work together to define and serve the needs of all older adults in Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties.

The South Milwaukee meeting is from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on June 19 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 2507 5th Ave.

Here is the PDF flyer, with survey links.


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Summer Jukebox: A Schedule of Sweet Sounds Coming to South Milwaukee

I asked Brian Morrison to pull together a list of all the live music this summer in South Milwaukee, and I wasn’t prepared for the result — it’s even more than I thought! Thanks, Brian, for taking this on.

And enjoy some sweet sounds this summer!

Have music to add to this? Send it along,

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