Brady Street celebrates a Festivus for the rest of us
Seinfeld fans' favorite "un-holiday" takes over Brady Street this Saturday. Plus: TCD's Festivus carol from the 12 Songs Holiday Project.
Get the celebratory aluminum pole out of the crawlspace, ready yourself for the Feats of Strength and prepare to air your grievances because Festivus is back.
For those who are not yet familiar, Festivus is a made-up holiday that was introduced in the 1997 Seinfeld episode “The Strike.” In the episode, George Costanza’s father Frank, played brilliantly by Jerry Stiller, hated all the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas and invented his own holiday when George was a child. In true Seinfeld form, the “holiday” included a bizarre and hilarious set of traditions: an aluminum pole with no decorations (Frank “finds tinsel distracting”), the Airing of Grievances (Frank’s way to tell the one’s you love “all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year”), and the Feats of Strength (vaguely described as some kind of wrestling match, the mention of which always sends George over the edge).
Of course Milwaukee—a city that saw mayoral declarations for Lebowski Day and Milwaukee Day (4/14) this past year—celebrates this holiday. Of course it does! There’s even a place in the city that sells Festivus poles (www.festivuspoles.com) that are known for their “very high strength-to-weight ratios.”
And Brady Street is the perfect location to celebrate such a holiday.
“We’re just such a diverse street and we’re totally a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities and religious backgrounds,” said Steph Salvia, Executive Director at Brady Street BID. “So an ‘un-holiday’ totally works for everybody on this street.”
In the last five years, the Festivus celebration has grown on Brady Street from something that initially seemed a bit confusing to something the community has embraced as an annual tradition.
“At first, people didn’t know how to take it, but ever since then it’s just been growing and growing,” said Salvia. “Last year was just insanely huge. We’re actually splitting it into two teams this year,” to accommodate for growing number of people.
Led by Beechwood’s party-ready representatives—the Bud Light girls—Festivus “teams” will go bar to bar, jotting down grievances to be aired and competing in the Feats of Strength, which happens a bit differently than in the Seinfeld episode.
“They get buckets an fill them with beer, and whoever can hold their beer out in front of them with a straight arm wins the Festivus pole,” said Salvia.
Shops and restaurants in the area will also be celebrating by offering sales and specials during the night’s festivities. Waterford Wine will be hosting a Festivus Tasting Open House from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Apollo Cafe will have appetizer specials, BVEN Boutique is offering $20 any shoes, and bars have deals on Bud Light and New Glarus products. In all, 17 Brady Street business will be participating.
Festivus even has its own carol here in Milwaukee, “O’Festivus,” recorded by Joel Kopischke and Stas Venglevski for ThirdCoast Digest and WMSE’s 12 Songs Holiday Project. It’s another Festivus miracle!
Follow Dan Shafer on Twitter at @danshaferMKE.