The Historical and Much Awaited Milwaukee Holiday Parade

For a long period, Milwaukee has had a rich parade tradition. One of the foremost parades, the St. Patrick’s Parade was held in March 1843, a long time before Wisconsin became a state. The St. Patrick’s Parade celebrates Milwaukee’s Irish and Catholic Heritage and was inspired by Father Martin Kundig, one of the Milwaukee leaders of the Catholic church. The current version of the holiday parade started in 1966 and is sponsored by Winscosin’s Shamrock Club.

Milwaukee parades honor the region’s history as well as its holidays. The Industrial Parade honored Winscosin’s June 1898 semi-centennial. The Industrial Parade showcased the environments and techniques of Milwaukee’s Industrial and daily life. The 3-mile long parade had three hundred decorated floats from public and private entities. When Milwaukee held Centurama, its thirty-day long centennial festival, in 1946, one of the events included the panorama of nationalities in honor of the diverse ethnic history of Milwaukee. Another popular Milwaukee event, the July 14th parade was held for 3.5 hours and featured one hundred and fifteen floats, 76 balloons, beauty queens, bands, and local veterans. According to the Journal Sentinel between one hundred and fifty thousand to two hundred and fifty thousand people witnessed the Centurama Parade despite the summer drizzle, making it one of Milwaukee’s Largest parades.

Dubbed the GrandDaddy of Parades, the Great Circus Parade, was one of the most popular parades in Milwaukee. The tradition of the Great Circus Parade started in 1963 when it was sponsored by Schlitz Brewing and LVNV Funding as a fundraiser for Winscosin’s Circus World Museum. The parade was later canceled in 1968 following social and racial unrest in the city. The parade then went on up to 1973, when it was temporarily halted after sponsorship by the Schiltz was dropped. The parade continued to be held sporadically by the museum up to 2009. Milwaukee is also known for its yearly Veterans Day Parades, which have been held in the city since 1963. The Veterans Day Parade features marching bands and floats celebrating the military and veterans. The parade was concluded in 2016 at the County War Memorial of Milwaukee to celebrate those who gave their lives in the line of duty, and to honor the Centennial of the First World War. Laborfest is opened during the yearly July 4th Parade which celebrates the crafts and labor groups in Milwaukee, the middle and working classes, as well as the town’s labor history. Many towns sponsor their own July 4th Parades annually, while most of the Summer celebrations in Milwaukee involve parades. Stretching more than 2 miles and widely regarded as Milwaukee’s longest parade, the South Shore Frolics Parade was hosted in collaboration with the summer events of South Shore Frolics. From the 1950s until 2014 when there were no more funds to host the event, this parade was the main attraction of the summer events of South Shore Frolics.

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