See photos of Light the Hoan’s official bridge lighting

First phase of $4.6 million project complete

Last updated on October 27th, 2020 at 12:33 pm

The west side of the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge over Milwaukee’s inner harbor was officially illuminated Thursday night, and will now be lit nightly, marking a major milestone for the $4.6 million ‘Light the Hoan‘ project.

More than 2,000 computer-controlled LED light bulbs were recently installed on the tied-arch bridge over three months, completing phase one of an effort now four years in the making.

The privately funded initiative was unveiled with a light show, set to music by local artists on 88.9 Radio Milwaukee and broadcast live on TMJ4. The lighting system changed color and animated with the music for about 15 minutes, giving onlookers a glimpse of working plans to sync the bridge with live concerts at Summerfest or big plays at Fiserv Forum and Miller Park.

Despite fog and rainy weather, the spectacle drew a crowd. Families and small groups gathered in cars and on foot along East Erie Street and East Summerfest Place. Once the show ended, the bridge continued to display its wide range of color changes and patterns.

Led by co-founders Michael Hostad and Ian Abston, the Light the Hoan group is currently working to raise the remaining $1.1 million needed to install lights on the east side of the bridge.

In 2018, the group launched a public crowdsourcing campaign to help raise more than $1.5 million to purchase and install the lights, which people have donated in dedication to loved ones or special causes.

The project has sparked partnerships with local nonprofits to create community programs such as ‘Code the Hoan,’ which exposes area students to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities by teaching them how to program and code the bridge’s lighting system.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer covers restaurants, retail, tourism, and sports and entertainment. She joined BizTimes in 2015, previously as an intern reporter. She earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University in 2017. When she's not on the job, Maredithe coaches field hockey and loves exploring her favorite city on earth, Milwaukee.

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