A 501(C)(3) non-profit organization

News & Press


MILWAUKEE — This week was to be the kick off of the Democratic National Committee in Milwaukee, and is no doubt bittersweet. As the community adjusts to the reality of 2020, Light the Hoan is doing its part to illuminate the path forward, giving Milwaukee something to celebrate with the completion of the first phase of the project which will allow the west side of the bridge to be lit later this summer.

All funds raised for the lighting, installation and maintenance were raised privately between May of 2018 and January 2020.

Following a two-year campaign, the group of civic and business leaders is thrilled to announce it has reached this key milestone. After installation and testing of the west side lights, a community celebration will be held in late Summer and the bridge will be lit daily thereafter.

“In times of crisis, light can be a symbol of hope and comfort.”

Light the Hoan has worked in a unique public private partnership with the Wisconsin DOT for approval and oversight of the light installation, which will begin in late July. The Milwaukee community will begin to see test lighting starting in September, prior to the official lighting ceremony, date TBD.

“In times of crisis, light can be a symbol of hope and comfort. We know that lighting a bridge doesn’t solve our health or social challenges, but, from day one, we wanted this project to be about more than lights on a bridge,” said Michael Hostad, co-founder of Light the Hoan. “To that end, moving forward with lighting the Hoan allows us to demonstrate that mission through programs like Code the Hoan, which creates unique STEM education opportunities for local students who will be able to program the lights on the bridge.”

The Light the Hoan team will continue to fundraise the last $1.1 million to light the east side of the bridge and advance meaningful partnerships, some of which have been formed over the last two years to support the bridge’s significant technical capabilities. Beyond animation and changing colors, the lights can help celebrate events like Brewers’ home runs, big plays at the Fiserv Forum, live music, and more!

Milwaukee has the opportunity to provide unmatched STEM opportunities to local students, utilizing these technical capabilities and also become a global leader in job creation for neurodiverse students on the autism spectrum. By forming Code the Hoan with our partners Signify, local colleges, universities, learning institutions and Islands of Brilliance, Milwaukee’s youth will play a role in programming the bridge lights in Milwaukee, and potentially across the globe over the next decade.

In addition, local non-profits will be the focus of the organization’s “Shine a Light” program over the next year. One night per month the bridge will be lit in colors representing these non-profits and a percentage of all bulb sales from that month will go to support the non-profit. That list includes:

●     88.9 Radio MKE

●     ACTS Housing

●     Black Box Fund

●     Boys and Girls Club

●     IC Stars

●     Imagine MKE

●     Islands of Brilliance

●     Urban Underground

●     United Community Center

●     We Got This

The “Shine a Light” program will continue and highlight non-profits from across our community over the next decade. To apply to be a part of the “Shine a Light” program, visit https://www.lightthehoan.com/pages/shine-a-light.

“While we’re all disappointed that this pandemic robbed Milwaukee of it’s opportunity to sit at the center of the global stage as scheduled for 2020, we’re incredibly proud of all the work and partnerships that went into this project moving ahead this year, when Milwaukee needs it the most,” said Ian Abston, co-founder of Light the Hoan. “Now, in addition to a movement by the millennial generation and building partnerships across our community, this project represents the progress and resilience of our city. When all other options were off the table, we found a way to get this done, and we’re incredibly proud to move it forward to inspire the people of Milwaukee. I’m excited about the impact our generation can have on our skyline and our community.”

Skip to content