American Family, Brewers Foundation, Kellner to fund July 3 fireworks

Christian Yelich named American Family brand ambassador

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:09 pm

Madison-based American Family Insurance, the Milwaukee Brewers Foundation and philanthropist Ted Kellner’s holding company T&M Partners have partnered to fund the July 3 Milwaukee lakefront fireworks show this year.

American Family Insurance chairman and chief executive officer Jack Salzwedel and Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger.

The sponsors replace U.S. Bank and its predecessor First Wisconsin, which backed the fireworks display for nearly 40 years. In 2018, U.S. Bank announced that the 2018 event would be its last.

American Family, the Brewers Community Foundation and T&M Partners have signed on to fund the 2019 fireworks display, but long term plans for the event are still under discussion.

The 45-minute fireworks show costs about $350,000 to put on. The annual event has drawn tens of thousands of visitors annually to Milwaukee’s lakefront for an early Independence Day celebration.

“When we heard in 2018 that U.S. Bank was no longer going to organize the event, we decided to spearhead the search for new supporters, so we’re really excited that this summer we are able to partner with not just one, but several fantastic Milwaukee businesses, who have come together to continue this great Milwaukee tradition,” said Guy Smith, executive director of Milwaukee County Parks.

American Family continues to expand its presence in the Milwaukee area, following its commitment earlier this year as the new naming rights sponsor of Miller Park in 2021. The company also plans to open an office building in downtown Milwaukee within the next few years to house high-tech work such as data analytics and business innovation, employee recruitment and development, and community issues and investment.

In 2017, American Family took over the naming rights of Summerfest’s main stage at Henry Maier Festival Park. A $50 million upgrade to the amphitheater is currently underway.

Brewers star Christian Yelich was on hand to announce the fireworks sponsorship at a Saturday press conference, where he was also named a brand ambassador for American Family. In that role, Yelich will partner with the American Family Dreams Foundation to “raise funds and awareness for a Milwaukee cause,” which will be identified in the coming months, the company said.

Yelich joins other American Family brand ambassadors including business executive and former supermodel Kathy Ireland, retired baseball star Derek Jeter, PGA golfer Steve Stricker and NFL All-Pro J.J. Watt.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.