Parade Display open at City Hall

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:45 am

Milwaukee City Hall will display puppets and floats featured in this year’s All-City People’s Parade through Thursday, Aug. 23.

The 4th annual parade, held Friday, July 27, and inspired by the annual MayDay Parade in Minneapolis, drew professional artists, community members and kids together to create parade decorations focused on one central theme – “finding your voice.”

The community will be able to meet the artists behind the parade masterpieces at a special reception Friday, Aug. 17, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at City Hall, 200 E. Wells Street. A silent auction during the reception, with parade pieces like headdresses and masks for public purchase, will primarily benefit artists who agree to allow some of their creations to be put up for sale as well as artists who lost work in the Riverwest fire July 17.

Milwaukee Public Theatre collaborated with the Milwaukee Mask and Puppet Theatre to pull the parade together for the nearly 550 kids who participated in it. The theatres also partnered with the Summer of Peace Coalition, a host of community organizations that supported the parade and helped organize a youth peace rally for 1,300 kids following the procession of puppets and floats. Together, the theatres and the coalition celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Summer of Peace 365 initiative, a peace arts program geared toward teenagers that emphasizes non-violence, racial justice and civic responsibility.

“We’re working toward peace because there’s a real need for us to do that,” said Barbara Leigh, artistic and producing director for the Milwaukee Public Theatre.

Thanks to the partnership, Leigh said the parade was able to involve many more kids than in past years.

Twelve lead artists contributed their talents to the making of the parade, and at least 300 people total helped create parade elements. According to Leigh, the theatres opened the parade up to artists in the community, advertising through Facebook, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The temporary artists participated in public art workshops the theatres held at Grand Avenue Mall in June and July.
Families and kids could also attend the workshops, and additional youths were involved with parade preparations through residencies in which the theatres’ professional artists collaborated with youth groups. At one residency, artist Michael Pettit teamed up with the Urban Ecology Center’s science club to develop a float.

Leigh believes the City Hall display and reception will enable community members to absorb the finer details of the artwork after catching only a glimpse in the parade.

“In the exhibit you get to see what it is, talk with the artists, experience it close up, and it’s a really great opportunity,” Leigh said.

“It’s much more engaging to actually be able to look at it up close,” she said.

The display also supports the Milwaukee Public Theatre’s mission of creating art that is accessible to the public. Parade paraphernalia has been on display at City Hall all four years of the parade’s existence.

The display at City Hall is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. during weekdays. For more information, visit

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