Whitefish Bay — As John McGivern strolled Silver Spring Drive last week, he couldn't help but notice the number of kids walking and riding their bikes after school.
As the host of Milwaukee Public Television's 'Around the Corner,' McGivern has visited 65 Wisconsin communities over the last five years. Even after visiting all of those communities, he said each one feels unique to him. When he toured Whitefish Bay last week for his upcoming sixth season, he said the number of kids on bicycles speaks to the village's special sense of community.
'By the second day, we said, 'We get this.' We get why people live here. We get why people move here, and we get why people move back here, for those who were raised here,' he said. 'It's a great community.'
McGivern, who grew up in Milwaukee's east side, remembers coming to Whitefish Bay to get Christmas decorations and Fourth of July bike decorations at Winkie's. He also remembers taking the bus to Bay Shore Mall, and gawking at all of the historic mansions as he traveled north on Lake Drive.
Having conducted 15 interviews over 4 1/2 days, McGivern's understanding of Whitefish Bay deepened considerably as he got to know the people who live here.
McGivern visited longtime Whitefish Bay businesses like Winkie's, Jack Pandl's Whitefish Bay Inn, Regina's Bay Bakery, Dan Fitzgerald Pharmacy and Fox Bay Cinema Grill. He also visited New Options Salon, Red Cap Luggage, City Market and Minoan Intimate Apparel, where the comedian asked to see the largest bra available.
McGivern also talked with Whitefish Bay Village President Julie Siegel, along with residents like the Commer, Vairavan and Rabideaux families.
One new thing McGivern learned from a Whitefish Bay resident is the village is divided into two halves, and each half has its own zip code.
'(The resident) said 'Oh, I was raised on the north side.' The north side? Of Whitefish Bay! I loved it,' he said.
McGivern said he likes to pick new ideas and locations in every show to avoid repetitive visits to libraries, police stations and so on. During his time in Whitefish Bay, for example, he had the new idea to ride along with a refuse collector - which ended up being his favorite experience in Whitefish Bay.
'This guy Don was incredible. Just to hear about his business, how they do it and what their day is like,' he said. 'Everybody in the neighborhood knows them, and they walk out and wave.'
Season six of 'Around the Corner with John McGivern' premieres in January. Whitefish Bay residents will get a sneak peek at the episode at a community screening, which has yet to be scheduled.