Jeramey Jannene

Light The Hoan Adds Dockside Viewing Locations For Thursday’s Event

'Hoanchella' serves as kickoff to light the lake side of bridge.

By - Aug 15th, 2023 11:41 am
Hoan Bridge lights. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Hoan Bridge lights. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Hoanchella will be more than just a boat party.

Light The Hoan, which is using the new event as a launchpad for its $2 million campaign to light the east side of the Hoan Bridge, has added two land-based viewing parties for the Thursday night party. Additionally, a number of boat rental options are available for those that want to take to the water, but lack a vessel.

Pier Garden at The Starling, 102 N. Water St., will host an event on its riverwalk space with Hoanchella-themed cocktails and music from Milwaukee Airwaves. Table reservations are available from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Boone & Crockett will become Hoan & Crockett for the day. The patio, which features a straight shot view of the bridge, opens at 4 p.m. A live DJ will play from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The venue is located at 818 S. Water St.

The signature experience remains a ticketed cruise aboard the Miss Wisconsin, with fireworks and music by DJ Shawna synced to a two-hour light show. A BYOB (bring your own boat) option is also available and includes a dock slip at Lakeshore State Park, beverages, snacks and Light the Hoan merchandise. Both options include an overhead drone photo by Nate Vomhof. Tickets for the boat party are $175, with the BYOB option available for $1,500.

“The goal of this extraordinary event is to create a multi-sensory extravaganza that pushes the boundaries of entertainment, offering an unforgettable experience for attendees,” said DJ Shawna.

A 10-minute light show will be synced with DJ Shawna’s music at 8:30 p.m. Individuals not on the cruise can listen to the live DJ set on Radio Milwaukee, 88.9 FM.

“Imagine approaching Milwaukee from Lake Michigan and seeing the east side of the Hoan lit up and reflecting off the surface of the water. That is a powerful first impression for the city and we believe it will be a point of pride for Milwaukeeans now and for future generations,” said organization executive director Erika Smith

Two Milwaukee RiverWalk locations will also offer an opportunity to see the boat cruise and the associated river cruise caravan. The Tap Yard at Schlitz Park and Lakefront Brewery are both designated spots to see the action, though not the bridge lights. Visit The Tap Yard, 1555 N. River Center Dr., from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. where Milwaukee Downtown, Business Improvement District #21 is hosting a beer giveaway and trivia for Downtown Employee Appreciation Week. Lakefront Brewery, 1872 N. Commerce St., will have live music and serves as the turnaround point for the cruise.

In 2020, after announcing $3.5 million was raised to build the first phase of the project, the organization is now seeking to raise $2 million to finish the lights and sustain its operation. While the initial push was to get the lights installed for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, the new campaign aims to have the second phase complete in time for the 2024 Republican National Convention.

Want to see what the lights look like up close? Don’t attempt to stop your car at the top of the bridge, instead see our article and photo gallery from 2020.

The bridge isn’t just a photo-friendly art exhibit. A Light the Hoan Intern Challenge for college students and Code the Hoan partnership for K-12 students offer opportunities for students to learn how to program light shows on the Signify LED lights.

Built between 1970 and 1972, the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge is nearly two miles in length. It opened to the public in 1977, after being derided as the “Bridge to Nowhere” for five years. It is named after former Milwaukee Mayor Daniel Hoan.

Can’t make the Aug. 17 event? You can dedicate a bulb through the organization’s website or pay for a custom light show. Want to rent a boat? Email

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