The more I find myself going to BradfordBeach
this summer, the more I realize the hidden glory of Milwaukee. For so many months out of the year
there is a vital part of Milwaukee
buried under mounds of snow.
Only when the spring begins, does Milwaukee truly start to awaken from its
winter slumber as a new born wrecking force of fun.
There is something about the beginning of warm weather that
gives a needed shot of adrenaline to our city which is lacking 5 months out of
the year; case in point Bradford Beach.
BradfordBeach is without a doubt
the place to be for young people during Milwaukee
summers. It’s a spontaneous gathering unlike any other in the city.
Sure there is a huge variety of music and other festivals
alike during Milwaukee’s
summer months, but none are quite as casual and free spirited as a sunny
weekend day at BradfordBeach.
Occasionally there are planned events at the beach, but the
real fun lies in a spontaneous gathering in which no one is very pressed to do
anything. The level of relaxation has a way of demolishing any thoughts of
stress and the world outside the beach.
You will almost always find a large crowd on a sunny day at Bradford and that is part of the fun. I’m typically not a
fan of large drunken Milwaukee
crowds especially in hot weather and close proximity, but something about Bradford diminishes any discomfort.
Most people at Bradford
appear more intoxicated off the sun than alcohol. There is much less pushy
belligerence than an average night at Summerfest or any crowded bar for that
matter, because seriously, who could be angry at the beach?
Despite the volley ball players and other beach competitors
the psyche of a sloth is the best comparison to the mood of Bradford.
Some might consider that type of laziness a sin, but I would argue that it’s
The new additions to the beach have only made it that much
more appealing. I was born on the east-side of Milwaukee and raised near by, and never
before has Bradford seemed so foreign to me. I
mean that in the best possible way.
has its perks, it really isn’t a hot bed for exotic excess. I do love the
blue-collar, Harley-Davidson culture of Milwaukee,
but being raised here I can only bear so much.
The new cabana inspired setting, with tiki-bar, umbrellas,
and lounge chairs brings an entirely new feel to the beach. In a few words, it
feels more like Miami
The beach in itself is a vacation.
While this transformation has been in the process for years
now, it seems Bradford has finally realized
its goal of becoming a small portion of paradise in a very unlikely locale.
Also, considering the lineup of reggae dominating bands
scheduled to play at the beach, it’s fair to say Bradford
is a full on party of the most laid back kind.
In the past I remember Bradford
being somewhat more family oriented. Not to say that families are no longer
welcome, but the beach has clearly changed in demographic.
The overwhelming population has most likely migrated from
the nearby UWM campus. This of course makes for a dominating group of outgoing,
tan, twenty-something’s with little clothing and lots of beer.
Understandably this could intimidate anyone not fitting the
mold, but that really isn’t the nature of Bradford.
It is a welcoming community before anything else. The sun and easy-going
atmosphere makes it nearly impossible to exercise unnecessary modesty.
Also, should Milwaukeeans at any point feel un-easy about Bradford because of some of the negative attention it has
received in the past, they should take the step and visit the beach for
themselves. With the presence of Milwaukee
police on patrol and numerous lifeguards it’s hard to feel in any danger.
Avoiding the Bradford
experience because of a few bad apples would be a waste of one of Milwaukee’s best
In the end, I think you have to give some of the credit for Bradford’s success to our horrendous Wisconsin
That boost of life that reveals itself at the beginning of
every spring is no accident. Ask any Wisconsinite why summer is so valued in
this state and they will tell you it’s because the winters are so cruel.
It would be difficult to think any Floridian or Californian
could understand the importance of a Wisconsin
summer. Only us northerners can really grasp the concept of a truly unforgiving
winter and that makes our summers all the more kind.
If Bradford beach isn’t the
best example of this concept in Milwaukee,
I don’t know what is. Bradford Beach is summer in Milwaukee.