'Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the city
Santas cycled in costumes, plump and pretty,
On bikes did they ride, pedaling far and near
Their gifts to all were joy and good cheer.
The Milwaukee Santa Cycle Rampage isn't quite the holiday tradition of Clement Moore's poem, but it has become a mainstay of the local holiday celebration.
When Dave Schlabowske abdicated his role as organizer and lead St. Nick, his acolytes arose in a clatter, to carry the tradition for an 11th winter; cold weather being no matter.
Loosely coordinated by the Lowlands restaurant group, the rampage continues on Saturday, with costumed characters gathering at four local eateries to start their journey at 9 a.m. From the Fuel Cafe, the Cafe Hollanders in 'Tosa and on the East Side, and Cafe Centraal in Bay View, the cycling santas will ride to meet at the Lakefront Brewery.
From their, the group will roll to the Rehorst Brewery, then on to Kochanski's Concertina Bar. The post-ride festivities will be set up back at Centraal.
Lowlands Group partner Mike Eitel demurred at the suggestion that he had taken on the role of cycle master, but enthusiastically described the spirit behind his support.
"I think its one of the most unique events the city has to offer," Eitel said. A grass roots movement that is gaining momentum and ridership, spreading holiday cheer through most of milwaukee's neighborhoods while highlighting how easy it is to cycle the city and how close everything is to each other.
"Plus the allure of a highly diverse group of people (ages 21-81) and the extremely creative display of santa outfits, holiday costumes and dressed up bicycles... it's really quite something!"