The Fonzie Debate

Is he the "King of Cool" or an unwelcomed blast from the past?

A few weeks ago I participated in Milwaukee's Bronz Fonze event. As a member of the committee that helped run and organize the event I was fortunate enough to meet the cast and their families and experience the day.

The Bronz Fonze is exactly what it sounds like. A bronz statue of Arthur Fonzarelli from the hit show "Happy Days" that resides on Milwaukee's riverwalk. Ever since the statue was announced by Visit Milwaukee's Dave Fantle there has been a lot of controversy.

Many people, especially those in the art community, would have you believe that this statue is a detriment to the city of Milwaukee. That this statue emulates a city that has not evolved since Happy Days aired and is still home to Laverne & Shirley.

I have to say I respectfully disagree. First, what's wrong with Laverne & Shirley? The statue was never meant to be a "work of art," but rather a fun tourist attraction and a way for the city to garner some media coverage. In short, a way to create a buzz around Milwaukee and increase tourism.

I believe Dave Fantle and the rest of the committee did a great job of this. The statue generated a tremendous about of media coverage locally, nationally and internationally! As the statue sits right outside our office windows I can see a fairly steady stream of visitors coming to get a picture with "the Fonze."

The statue does not represent Milwaukee as a whole, but merely one piece of Milwaukee. The city has a fantastic arts seen with numerous theaters, concert venues and galleries. It is also home to fabulous restaurants, universities and shops. However, the city also has three area breweries and a number of micro-breweries. It it important that Milwaukeeans not forget their roots. It is part of what makes us genuine and original...

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