By Dylan Deprey
Father’s Day can be a different experience for everyone. For some, it is celebrating and barbecuing in the backyard with their dad. For others, it can be an emotional day, whether it is resentment for an absent father or remembering the loss of a fallen father.
Though Father’s Day may strike a nerve for some, for the past three decades, Father’s for Progress have taken it upon themselves to host the community-wide Sherman Park Father’s Day event to celebrate fathers, families and the community.
The 30th Annual Father’s Day celebration was a steamer, but sweat-inducing wind and blazing beams did not hold back the festivities for the June 17th event. From free vendors and resources, to face painting and horse rides, Sherman Park showed out for Milwaukee’s fathers.
“I’ve been coming to this since I was a kid,” said Ajmou Butler, Heal the Hood founder, while handing out information as an educator for the Milwaukee Collegiate Academy. “Normally I’m not with my son on Father’s Day because I get him every day, so the majority of this day I come out here do poetry, canvas and fellowship with the fathers.”
Milwaukee’s own stand-in-father and We Got This founder, Andre Lee Ellis, hosted the event for the 18th straight year.
“This is my favorite event of the year,” Ellis said. “Even when I moved to Phoenix, they would fly me in to emcee this program because it’s the best thing to happen in this community.
He shared the stage with local barbers who were giving free haircuts to youth. In between Homer Blow blasting classics across the park, Ellis preached unity within the community, and supporting fathers and youth.
“There’s no other event in town that has these many men, especially Black men, coming together for the namesake of bringing family and children together on Father’s Day,” Ellis said.
Antoine Hudson, a local father, sported a homemade “Best Dad Ever” shirt accompanied by family pictures. He was enjoying his time with his seven children.
“It’s a really cool event,” Hudson said as he walked across the park checking out activities.
The Original Black Panthers of Milwaukee attended the event to show their support for local fathers and families.
As a father and advocate, Original Black Panther General King Rick said fathers needed support year-round to create an even stronger community.
“We need to celebrate fathers every day in the community because they are here to provide and to protect,” Rick said.
Along with the Milwaukee Police Department Ice Cream truck, the Milwaukee County Sheriff Department was present to interact with community members and ensure a safe event.
Interim Sheriff Rick Schmidt was enjoying conversation with local fathers as he strolled through the park.
“A couple years back we had a bad incident, and things have tremendously turned around,” Schmidt said. “The people are back and having a great time, and as the Sheriff I’m pleased to get to walk around and meet the folks.”
He said the event was a perfect opportunity for families and neighbors to congregate on a beautiful day and show their support for fathers.
Local vendors and resource tables bordered the park, and whether it was the glow emanating off of the Milwaukee’s Classic Car Club or information provided by the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network, fathers and family had plenty to do on the beautiful day.
Off in the corner of the park, were three tables decorated to the nines and wedding ready. Serena Brown was promoting her local event planning business, 3041 North Events.
“First off I’m here to support fathers,” Brown said. “There is also a passage in the Bible that says, ‘Marriage is honorable,’ and so my passion is event and wedding planning and I think that marriage can help us build a stronger community.”
She added that this was her first time attending the event and she was amazed with the turnout and overall support.
“I think it is so awesome to see so many people come together, and to just see all the positive things and businesses, and I love it,” Brown said.