'All hands on deck': Milwaukee County preps for lakefront fireworks show amid staffing shortages
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Preparations are underway for the major July 3 fireworks show on Milwaukee's lakefront.
This year's show is the first in two years, with the pandemic forcing the cancellation of Milwaukee's traditional Independence Day fireworks in 2020 and 2021.
This year, Milwaukee County is working to revive the tradition with a smaller staff and big crowds expected.
On Friday, Veterans Park was already deep into set-up mode for the show, with firework tents, protective fences, and dozens of porta potties out.
The event will have more than a dozen vendors all day, and a 45 minute fireworks display at night.
"Tens of thousands of people will be down here," said Guy Smith, the executive director at Milwaukee County Parks, "It's going to be just a great, festive atmosphere."
With staffing issues throughout the county, the Milwaukee parks department is still making sure to keep a strong presence.
"We have everyone from administrative folks to our leadership team, all of our operations, recreation, all of the different areas are coming together to make this work," Smith said.
The parks department has a close relationship with the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, who will have patrols out, despite also dealing with staffing shortages this year.
"It's pretty much all hands on deck from our agency. We have a lot of great people who are with this agency who are willing to put forth the effort," said Lt. Jeremy Franke.
With a lot of people and a lot going on, the sheriff's office is asking attendees to practice patience.
"Any time you're mixing pedestrians with traffic, there's a cause for concern, safety concerns, and we're trying to mitigate that best as possible," Lt. Franke said.
This show is special for the county, as they're bringing back a city tradition after two years.
"This year obviously we're trying to get out of the throws of the pandemic, and back into as much normalcy as we can," Smith said.
Smith said people who want to reserve their spots to watch the fireworks can do so on Saturday at the earliest, but at their own risk. Attendees will be responsible for their own items.
Milwaukee County Parks is looking for any volunteers to help with the cleanup effort at Veterans Park on Monday.