Milwaukee Bucks fan favorite Bobby Portis hoists the Bucks' championship trophy over his head during the team's championship parade in downtown Milwaukee. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)
Milwaukee Bucks fan favorite Bobby Portis hoists the Bucks' championship trophy over his head during the team's championship parade in downtown Milwaukee. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)

People from all over the state visited Milwaukee to celebrate the Bucks’ NBA Finals victory.

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered Thursday—officially declared “Bucks in Six” Day by Gov. Tony Evers—in downtown Milwaukee for the Milwaukee Bucks’ victory parade, offering a glimpse of a more unified Wisconsin as the celebrations continued following the Bucks’ triumph over the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.

“It’s so good for Milwaukee and the state, just the positive energy and reasons for people to come together,” said Greg Murray, a Madison resident who traveled to Milwaukee with his son to attend the parade. “The past year’s been tough on people, driving people apart, and this just brings us together as a community. I wish we had more of this.”

Indeed, it wasn’t just residents of Milwaukee—the state’s largest, most diverse, most maligned, and most misunderstood city—coming to celebrate. The parade brought people such as Murray from the suburbs and beyond for one common cause: to show a sign of unity and joy after more than a year of division stemming from the 2020 presidential election, coronavirus pandemic, and state budget season.

“I want to give a special thanks to the Milwaukee Bucks, because they have done something that is sorely needed in this community, in this state, and in this nation,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “They have brought together people of all ages, all races, all nationalities. It’s a part of our Milwaukee Bucks. They are the unifiers.”

Such a celebration didn’t happen in 1971, the last time the Bucks won it all. The team, led by NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcdinor), never got a parade, although thousands of fans greeted the team when they flew back to the city.

RELATED: ‘I Just Love Them’: Bucks Fans Celebrate Finals Win in Deer District

But 50 years later, the scene looked more than a little different. To complement Evers’ statewide proclamation, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley also declared it “Bucks in Six” Day for Milwaukee County at a post-parade celebration in the Deer District as thousands of fans watched.

Milwaukee Bucks fans film and take photos of confetti raining down during the Bucks’ championship parade in downtown Milwaukee. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)

“It’s like a family atmosphere,” said Tiffany Corrigan, a Milwaukee resident who attended the parade with her son, Tyler. “It literally feels like everybody’s family.”

Laura Thomsen started painting a picture of Giannis Antetokounmpo late Wednesday night and was putting her finishing touches on the painting just an hour before the parade began. 

“Bucks won, and I actually have been up kind of partying and really excited about it, so I was like, ‘I really should make something for the parade.’ Hopefully, he would sign it; I don’t know about that, but wishful thinking,” Thomsen said. 

The Hicks family arrived at the parade at about 10 a.m., and Tyrone Hicks came to the Deer District for Game 4 of the NBA Finals. When the Bucks finally won the championship game, Hicks said, “It was an overwhelming feeling; it was amazing. Words can’t really describe it as a fan.”

As the crowd waited for the parade to start, some parade attendees started “the wave” while others sent inflatable beach balls bouncing around people’s heads. And, sure enough, as the Bucks players, coaches, and staff—and, of course, team mascot Bango—passed by, everyone cheered the same.

“We’ve got to celebrate the home team, we’ve got to show pride, support,” said Roberto Munoz, a Greendale resident who grew up in Milwaukee. He was there with his wife and children.