By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Dec 22, 2009 at 3:04 PM

This morning we broke news from the Milwaukee Riverwalk District. RiverSplash!, Milwaukee's unofficial kick off to its big summer season, is dead.

It didn't surprise me, as I knew the festival struggled, like many events, with expenses, marketing and staffing. But, since I live in the festival's backyard I wanted to provide several comments.

For years, has been a sponsor. We'll miss this exposure and relationship. We hosted for some time, donated advertising and helped promote the festival. We live our mission at, and I think we helped build community through our relationship with RiverSplash! and its fest goers.

I've provided ideas for RiverSplash! in the past and even met with event organizers.

2007 ideas

2008 ideas

But, there just wasn't the intestinal fortitude to truly change. Why? Mainly because change can cost money.

Yet, I do think change can happen now that what was RiverSplash! is dead. RiverSplash!, in its efforts to keep Water Street happy and selling beer (not a bad thing but it did make the fest into more about beer and less about music and gathering), forgot about its purpose -- the Milwaukee River.

Canoe rides, fountains, RiverWalk art and other water-related activities could easily be offered, heavily promoted and simply replace the drinking focus of RiverSplash!.

As I wrote in 2008, "The festival needs more fountains, gondolas, public floating art, lights and a night lights parade along the RiverWalk and on the Milwaukee River.

Let's add games that use the water, too -- like rubber duck races and other contests (and yes, I know they did an annual paddle boat race). Use the river, have fun with it and do the same with the RiverWalk.

As for the fireworks, they are awesome. But, let's couple with a summer Downtown lights program (like the Marcus Center) and a parade of boats and lights on the Milwaukee River."  A big boat parade, that's my simple suggestion for 2010.  Let's make it happen.  

I do believe that all things happen for a reason. It was time (several years ago, actually) to move beyond what RiverSplash! was. It's now over, so let's move on.

Downtown benefits from events, so please use the talkbacks to give the Riverwalk District ideas for the summer of 2010.

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.