Milwaukee's Pabst Theater chandelier gets annual cleaning

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- 33,000 sparkling crystals making up the Pabst Theater's chandelier, rested just above the seats in the audience, giving us a rare look at this iconic fixture.

"That`s part of the character and the opulent beauty of this theater is that chandelier," said Pabst Theater Group PR Director Andy Nelson.

Like anything else, it needs to be cleaned.

So once a year the 1.23 ton chandelier is lowered to get a little TLC.

"We climb up to the attic and we go to the 70-year-old piece of equipment that I manually hand crank down," said Pabst Theater Assistant Engineer Jason Millies.

About 10 volunteers come in over a 2-day period to clean the crystals one-by-one.

Engineers also check to make sure all of the crystals are secured and change all of the light bulbs.

"It is very hard work," said Millies.

The Pabst Theater was built in 1895, making it the fourth oldest active theater in the U.S.

"There was an original chandelier at the top that was taken out in the 1930s when there was the first big, massive remodel of the Pabst Theater," said Nelson.

But the Austrian crystal chandelier replaced a Tiffany-like dome light in 1976 when the city wanted to bring back the Pabst Theater's original look.

It's a look that catches the attention of residents and visitors.

"When these actors walk on this stage, or comedians, or musicians they`re just blown away with things like the chandelier," said Nelson.