Madison Festivals, Inc. takes public comments on Rhythm & Booms - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison Festivals, Inc. takes public comments on Rhythm & Booms moving downtown

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MADISON, Wisconsin (WKOW) -- Plans to move Madison's Rhythm & Booms celebration from Warner Park to downtown are nearing completion.

The Fourth of July festival has been an annual tradition at Warner Park for more than 20 years, said Rita Kelliher, President of Madison Festivals, Inc.

Kelliher's organization took charge of Rhythm & Booms last summer. She said it makes sense to now move the festivities downtown.

Madison Festivals, Inc. would like to see the celebration take place on John Nolen Drive. The centerpiece would be a fireworks display shot off from barges on Lake Monona.

The organization still needs to obtain a street use permit from the City of Madison for the move to be finalized. Rhythm & Booms would also feature live music and food vendors.

"The whole operation plan is ready to go. It's taken months and months," Kelliher said. "Now we're really working on the activities for the event and getting vendor applications in." 

Kelliher presented the basics of the plan to move Rhythm & Booms downtown to a crowd at the Capitol Lakes Retirement Community on Monday night. She then took questions and comments from the public.

Kelliher said the logistics of the move have many benefits. One is available parking.

"Rhythm & Booms never had any parking (at Warner Park)," she said. "Right now you'll have 8,500 spots at the Alliant Energy Center, and we'll run shuttle buses from the Alliant Energy Center so people don't have to walk."

"There's also 7,500 spots in city ramps," Kelliher said.

John Nolen Drive between Williamson and Lakeside Streets outbound from downtown would be shut down at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, which is the date of this year's festival. The inbound lanes would close at 1 p.m.

The 28-minute fireworks display would begin at 9:30 and end shortly before 10 p.m. A stage featuring music would remain open until 11 p.m.

John Nolen drive would re-open Sunday.

Greg Brown, a Supervisor at Union Cab of Madison, said he would like for cab drivers to be involved in transportation plans for this year's Rhythm & Booms.

He said his company will provide a "full fleet" of cabs to help transport people to and from the event. But Brown added the mass of people coming and going from the lakefront provides a challenge. More than 100-thousand are expected to attend.

"It's the hours after the event that can be really hectic, because everyone's moving away from the event at the same time," Brown said.

"So it's hard to get to the people that need transportation services and they also have to wait a really long time," he added.

Kelliher said the total cost of this year's Rhythm & Booms, if held downtown as planned, would be roughly $650-thousand. She said the event would be paid for solely through fundraising, private donations and the revenue it generates.

Madison Festivals, Inc. also gives volunteers the opportunity to work on behalf of a charity of their choosing. They are paid $9 or $10 an hour for their work, with that money then given to the various charitable organizations.

Kelliher said the city will not be chipping in for the event's price tag. It has provided financial assistance in the past.

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