Bango Buck, the mascot of the local professional basketball team, always attracts a crowd at Summerfest. Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings created a buzz when he participated in a clinic at the sports area, signed autographs and shuffled south on the grounds to do some sports radio interviews.
The most popular figure at the Big Gig, however, may have been a man in uniform doing nice things for others in uniform.
Windell Middlebrooks, known to millions as "The Miller High Life Delivery Guy" from the brewer's advertising campaign, stopped by Summerfest during a Milwaukee publicity tour last week for the "Give a Veteran a Piece of The High Life" program that launches nationally today.
MillerCoors will donate 10 cents for every specially-marked Miller High Life and High Life Light bottle cap to provide veterans with a variety of experiences like sports and concert tickets and other activities.
The company has teamed up with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America for the program.
High Life drinkers can drop off their caps and tops at retail locations, or submit them by mail.
OnMilwaukee.com spoke with Middlebrooks about the initiative, as well as the current High Life advertising campaign and his acting career.
OnMilwaukee.com: I've been seeing some fresh commercials lately. They look good, as usual.
Windell Middlebrooks: We've got some fresh ones that just started rolling and we're about to do another round here soon. We're keeping them rolling.
OMC: You draw big crowds wherever you go, but is it crazier in Milwaukee?
WM: Definitely. You know how we do when I come to town. I always feel like I'm coming home when I come to Milwaukee. This is like home. We've been all over, causing a commotion. It's always fun.
OMC: What is the idea behind the "Give a Veteran a Piece of The High Life" program?
WM: What we're doing is we're giving the veteran a piece of the High Life. This (publicity tour of Summerfest, Miller Park and area bars, retailers and restaurants), is the big kickoff. With the veterans coming home, we want to make sure they're doing the things that we all take for granted, like going to Brewers games and going to Summerfest and doing things like that. They're supporting us every day. We want to make sure we're supporting them.
What we're doing is taking 10 cents from every bottle cap and pull tab and donating Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a non-profit organization that is giving quality of life to the veterans when they come back. We wanted to partner with them and give something back.
So, for every specially marked Miller High Life and Miller High Life Light bottle cap or pull tab returned between now and Sept. 30, we'll give them money so they can have "High Life" experiences like going to games and concerts and other things.
OMC: Your appearance at Summerfest on opening night was pretty crazy. Did you even get to enjoy any music?
WM: We were running around, but I stopped for a few minutes and got to see a little Colbie Calliat and a little bit of Sheryl Crow. I was taking pictures with people, but I got to listen.
OMC: How is the acting career going? I've seen you on "Parks and Recreation" and on "The Suite Life on Deck" and some "Scrubs" reruns since we last spoke and I heard that CBS passed on the pilot you did for Adam Carolla's sitcom. Do you have anything else in the hopper?
WM: I just did another pilot for a show called "Body of Proof" for ABC and it got picked up. That starts in September, so I'll be on a new show as a series regular in the fall. I'm playing a medical examiner. It's got Dana Delaney and Jeri Ryan in and. I play Dr. Curtis Brumfeld and, believe me, you'll see some High Life qualities in him. They still want him to bring in some of the funny stuff, even though we're dealing with medical examiners and doctors and everything. I'm looking forward to it.
OMC: You mentioned before that Milwaukee is like home to you, because this is where Miller is located, but what specifically do you like about coming to our city?
WM: A lot of times, with the High Life, we go out and make sure everybody is using common sense and ask "Do we have to take back the High Life?" When you come to Milwaukee, you don't even have to worry about it. This is Miller Country. That's what I tell people. You come here and everything is in place. Instead of coming and having to watch and take it back, I just come and join in. It's already a party going on. That's what I like. I come to Summerfest and it was just going around and partying with the people. Put a cold one in my hand and I'm fine.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.