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Friday News Drop: Lots to love about Milwaukee

A "LOVE" sculpture is positioned near a railing that overlooks Lake Michigan with the sun low on the horizon.
Alberto Rios / Milwaukee Art Museum / Facebook

Milwaukee’s a big city with a lot going on. Catch up before spending your weekend either purposely or accidentally ignoring the news.

Sensing a very obvious, Valentine’s Day friendly theme for this edition of FND? Before we get into it, quick shout to Alberto Rios, who snapped the photo above during his time as a Milwaukee Art Museum security officer. Also, with apologies to Alberto, I flipped the image so “LOVE” wouldn’t be backward. Still, it’s a lovely shot, and you should visit his website to see his cool art.

Love: The lakefront, long-distance running

Milwaukee has a passionate running community, myself included. But the city also has what can generously be called a checkered history with event consistency. Perhaps this week’s news regarding the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon returning Oct. 1 can be a first step in a more positive direction.

Race director Scott Stauske told theJournal Sentinel of a renewed spirit of cooperation that’ll get the event back on track this year after a last-minute cancellation in 2022, when organizers and the city couldn’t agree on permits for a new course. Rerouting will definitely happen in 2023 because of road construction along the old path that started in Grafton, although there doesn’t seem to be a concrete course laid out just yet.

I’m grimacing a bit over that last part, but there’s a couple reasons for optimism. Stauske has the city involved at this relatively early stage, telling the JS’s Lori Nickel, “I've asked to meet with city officials starting in this past October, and we understand that we have the full cooperation of the the city, Department of Public Works with a new commissioner; and the mayor is totally on board.”

He also said the previous approach of relying on volunteers will likely go out the window, as he’s currently talking to professional race organizers. All this positive momentum has organizers feeling good enough to open registration this Sunday for the marathon, half-marathon and 5-kilometer options. Head to the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon website for more info.

Love: Libraries

Earlier this week, the Common Council made two moves that advanced the construction of a new Martin Luther King Library on the corner of Locust Street and North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. One approved the project plan and created a tax incremental district, and the other authorized the sale of city-owned properties on the site.

That’s the mundane-but-necessary stuff. The cool part is the plan itself: a $37.2 million development that’ll rise four stories and include the 18,000-square-foot library and retail space, plus a 43-unit apartment building on the northern end of the building.

According to a release from Alderwoman Milele Coggs, who sponsored the files that completed the funding package for the project, officials expect construction to begin this spring and potentially finish by fall of 2024.

A computer rendering of a construction project shows a one-story library with large windows attached to a modern, four-story apartment building.
JLA Architects
A rendering of the Martin Luther King Library project.

Love: Baseball and promotional items

Those of us who remember the less-successful eras of Milwaukee Brewers baseball might have fonder memories of the stuff we got at the stadium (Èlan seat cushions always stick in my brain) vs. the product on the field. The latter category has vastly improved in recent years, and the promotions are as good as ever based on the new batch revealed by the team earlier this week.

In one case, we might have the best giveaway in franchise history. For the annual Star Wars Night on May 13, anyone who buys the special theme night ticket package gets a Ueck Skywalker bobblehead that is such a brilliant mash-up I can't believe it took us this many Star Wars Nights to come up with it. There isn't even a photo of the bobblehead available, and I'm still giving it best-ever status.

Lucasfilm gets another spot on the calendar with Indiana Jones Day on June 17, a couple weeks before the latest installment of the film franchise hits theaters, with Craig Counsell donning the famous fedora for the bobblehead giveaway. There's also Sesame Street Day (Cookie Monster would be a solid cleanup guy), Harry Potter Night and the collection of community-themed celebrations that have become annual traditions.

For the full calendar, go to the Brewers website.

Love: Quality time with your kid

There’s still time to register for Milwaukee Rec’s annual Daddy/Daughter Dance, which returns next Saturday, Feb. 18, at North Division High School. Don’t get too caught up on the name; event organizers are quick to point out any father figure is welcome to fill the “Daddy” side of the equation.

The dancing part of the evening starts at 6:15 p.m., but there’s also a dinner option at 5 p.m. if you want to make a night of it. More information is available on the event webpage, and registration closes Feb. 13.

Love: Wine

I, personally, do not love wine — evidenced by the fact that my favorite wine has cartoon fruit characters dancing on the label. But there are tons of people who do love wine, which is why Shepherd Express set up a “Wines Around the World” tasting extravaganza next Saturday, Feb. 18.

The event webpage mentions more than 70 different wines to sip and doesn’t say anything about buckets to spit in, so start thinking about how you’re going to get yourself home safely. There will also be a handful of food vendors on hand to help soak up all that grape-y goodness, including Sweet Smoke BBQ and Beautiful Boards by Kali (snack boards). The Pink Apron bakery, Glas All Naturals cheese spread and Tabal Chocolate will also be there, although no promises about handouts.

Tickets are $32 for general admission and $48 if you’re feeling like a very important person. You can pick those up and get all the information you need at the Shepherd Express website.

Love: Romantic staycations

Travel Lens dared to ask the question, “Which cities are the best for a couple’s vacation around the world and in the U.S.?” While New York topped their index of four different factors, Milwaukee finished a very respectable sixth in the U.S. rankings — one spot ahead of Chicago and 30 ahead of Wichita and 34 ahead of notoriously romantic hotspot Henderson, Nevada.

We absolutely destroyed in the category of romantic hotels, tallying a fourth-place score of 13.52 per 100 miles squared. Milwaukee also finished seventh in annual searches for date ideas. No Netflix and chill for us, thank you very much!

Now, would my economist friends question the veracity/methodology of this particular ranking? Yes they would. But don’t let that stand in your way of performing your own “search for date ideas” and getting out there this pre-Valentine’s Day weekend.