Pewaukee Lake visitors celebrated 'the freedom that we enjoy' on Memorial Day amid COVID-19

PEWAUKEE -- Monday, May 25 was a Memorial Day without the usual big parades amid the coronavirus pandemic, but still a day to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom. Memorial Day is also the unofficial start to summer -- and with the sun heating Wisconsin into the 80s, it looked like a normal summer day at Pewaukee Lake. As they plopped down on the sand, many said they felt safe at the beach, despite COVID-19.

Washing away two months of cabin fever, Rich Vasquez of Milwaukee was outside Monday to catch some fish and fun in the sun with his young son.

"He's just stuck at home, antsy, crazy, so getting him outside to run around is a blessing," said Vasquez.

"As they said, if you feel uncomfortable, leave, so I'm fine," said Annette Jelinek of Waukesha. "This is open, so, it's good."

"Just staying 6 feet apart, not getting to close to people," said Vasquez.

"This crowd is OK," said Kelly Zacharias of Pewaukee. "I think if it were any busier, we'd probably be on our way out."

Memorial Day offered the parents a little holiday.

"The kids had energy to burn off, and kids learn by playing, so we're happy to be out, at least, as a family," said Zacharias.

From Pewaukee to Milwaukee County, it appeared as though summer arrived on the day when the country remembers.

"The freedom that we enjoy..." said John Johnson. "Every day, I get a little emotional when I think about it. It was given to us because of the sacrifices of all of these men and women."

With no big parade, there was a much smaller Memorial Day procession in Pewaukee.

"It wasn't advertised, but they're still coming out," said Cari Wallenfang of Pewaukee. "Today is no different. The pandemic's not going to stop us -- a 100-year tradition for this group."

Without the usual big crowds, this simple message still rang true:

"Thank you, that is all I can say," said Wallenfang.

American Legion members ended up at Pewaukee Lake -- where you'd usually be able to catch a water ski show, but that was canceled due to COVID-19. However, you can still check out the show Thursdays in June.