Love for Wausau to fund new canopy over Kickbusch Plaza

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) In a round about way, pure love for the city of Wausau will purchase a new canopy to help keep musicians, performers, and their equipment cool during the Jazz on the River Concerts in the summer.

The Kickbusch Plaza, located behind the Marathon County Library, houses a stage popularly used during the jazz concert series, but it's also available to the public on a first come, first serve basis. Executive Director Blake Opal-Wahoske with the Wausau River District Organization said use of the stage isn't reaching its full potential.

"It's great to have people down there and it's great to have musicians, however, that heat of the summer and the sun reflecting off of our aluminum stage is counteracting some of our equipment so we're looking at getting a canopy installed."

To pay for the new canopy the organization is looking to love for help. During the month of February a bright red heart is for sale at the cost of one dollar. The heart which is made of card stock gives buyers the chance to fill in the reason they love Wausau. The card is then displayed in the window.

The hearts are not only sold by the Wausau River District Organization but it involves this list of participating businesses:

Shepherd & Schaller
319 Gallery & Bistro
Janke's Book Store 
Poppy’s Boutique 
Second Peak Boutique 
CVA Giftshop 
Blackash Urban Goods
Polito’s Pizza
Lamplighter Fine Gifts 
Antiques by Ginny
The Local 
Campbell Haines Menswear 
Navieve Fromagerie 
Seven One Five Tattoo Collective
Evolutions in Design
The Mint Cafe 
Sweets on Third
Ignite Nutrition
La Prima Deli

All proceeds will go directly to the new canopy.

Wausau Winter Fest continues despite cold temperatures

By    Jerel Ballard    - WSAW

By Jerel Ballard  - WSAW

WAUSAU, Wis (WSAW) -- The cold weather on Saturday resulted in several outdoor activities during the Wausau Winter Fest to be canceled. Meanwhile, the indoor activities went off without a hitch.

“Don’t let the cold weather scare you, come on out,” said Wausau native Mae Cantrell, as she admired the ice sculptures on the 400 Block. “There is so much to do, just dress warm,” she added. “My daughter and I just made bath salts and now we are going to have some Mac and Cheese inside."

Despite the weather, dozens of families braved freezing temperatures to participate in the free activities throughout the downtown area. This was the eighth year in a row that Wausau Events organized the event.

"Generally, this weekend for the last eight years have been fantastic. It's been about 35 degrees and sunny,” explained Lindsey Lewitzke, who serves on the Board for Wausau Events. “We knew we would eventually get really cold weather and this happens to be that day.”

There was everything from horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating, face painting, live music and even a slide made of snow. Many participants popped in and out of nearby businesses just to stay warm.

“If you are going to come outside, you must make sure you have the top five items,” explained Oshay Johnson, as he ice skated with his best friend. “Make sure you have a hat, snow pants, coat, gloves, and boots.”

The Wausau Winter Fest happens one day out of the year, but the snow slide will remain on the 400 Block until it melts. 

Snow carving team creates art in Wausau

Snow sculpture. Image courtesy: WAOW TV.

Snow sculpture. Image courtesy: WAOW TV.

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU-WAOW) -- A team of renowned snow artists are spending the weekend in Wausau at the Woodson Art Museum for their annual snow carving event.

Team USA Snow Carving is braving the coldest weekend of the winter so far to create an Op-Art cube that will remain on display outside the museum for the rest of the winter.

Artists started carving on Saturday with the goal of finishing the project on Sunday. The sculpture will also be lit up at night.

It's the 30th year that the team has been invited to create art out of snow in Wausau. “Wausau is a community to celebrate winter,” Tom Queoff told WAOW TV. “You’ve got your ski hill, you’ve got a lot of other things going on and this is just another little thing you can do with snow too. You could do it in your backyard.”

The Op-art design goes along with the current display inside the museum, which features three-dimensional optical illusion art pieces by Victor Vasarely. The display is free and open to the public through February 24th.

Wausau YWCA hosts forum on racial reconciliation

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW)-- In what might be the most polarizing political climate in recent years, one group visits Wausau in effort to help raise awareness to certain injustices.

The Wausau YWCA hosted the nurturing diversity partner’s doctor Fran Kaplan and Reggie Jackson.

They try to help educate people to foster diversity and inclusivity in communities. On Sunday in Wausau, the duo spoke about why inclusivity is important even in central Wisconsin.

"I think the richness of America, the diversity of America is really the strongest suit we have. The fact that we have people from so many people from so many cultures. And all of these cultures combine to make us a very diverse nation on the planet. And we should appreciate and explore the fact that people have differences not as negatives, but as positive. So we can become a very rich cultural nation," Jackson said.

The nurturing diversity partners finished their Wausau forums Sunday, they will continue to travel around the Midwest.

Whatever Happened to?: Glen Moberg

By    Jeff Thelen  , WSAW

By Jeff Thelen, WSAW

It was actually a camping trip to northern Wisconsin while working as a reporter in Chicago in 1990 that helped write the first verse in Glen Moberg's time here, "it rained, so I went to visit the TV stations in this area because we had nothing to do it was raining out. And Mark sat me down and welcomed me with open arms and I sat and chatted with him for a couple hours and walked away thinking wouldn't it be great to leave behind the crime and the dirt and the grime of the big city."

Mark is former NewsChannel 7 news director Mark Zelich. Two years later Zelich retired and called Glen to come back to Wausau to apply for the job.

During his nearly 6-years as news director and anchor, Glen says the train derailment that lead to the evacuation of Weyauwega is the story that sticks out the most. He says he's also proud of the team he assembled.

After his time at NewsChannel 7, Glen worked mostly behind the scenes at Channel 9. Then, for the last 15-years he's been with Wisconsin Public Radio. A job that's earned him dozens of awards from various journalistic organizations.

Glen says, "I think I was able to turn out some of my best work because I was able to focus on just being a story teller and an anchor and a reporter."

He and his wife also own the Northwoods Goldsmith jewelry store in downtown Wausau.

In September, Glen was handed devastating news after stomach trouble sent him to the doctor, "and they discovered that I had cancer, stomach cancer and it's terminal and there's really nothing they can do to fix it."

Now, he's enjoying life as much as possible. Writing, playing and recording music and calling people he hasn't spoken to in years.

"What you need to do is live each day as if it might be your last, because it could very well be. Think twice before you say something harsh think twice before you insult somebody or get mad if someone is important to you, let them know that you love them."

Glen is undergoing chemotherapy. He says it won't cure him but may extend his life. And since he has good quality of life right now, he's having the treatment.

Wausau Events to hold annual 'Winter Fest'

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- The annual Winter Fest event will be held once again this year on the 400 Block.

"Winter Fest is a celebration of all the fun things of Winter! It happens throughout downtown Wausau with many activities occurring throughout the event," explained interim Executive Director with Wausau Events, Lindsey Lewitzke.

This year features the giant slide on the 400 Block, the dog sled pull, crafts, fat tire bikes, the Mac N Cheese Tasting, and so much more.

"This tasting features local restaurants’ take on Mac N Cheese! For $5, you can sample each restaurant’s dish and vote for your favorite," Lewitzke said.

Participating restaurants include City Grill, Milwaukee Burger Company, Noodles, Sixth Street Filling Station and Hiawatha.

Winter Fest is Saturday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. throughout downtown Wausau. All activities are free except for the Mac N Cheese Tasting which is $5 per card.

400 Block ice rink preparations underway

Curtis Aderholdt,  a WAOW photo journalist.

Curtis Aderholdt, a WAOW photo journalist.

WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) — As of Thursday, initial layers of ice were visible at the 400 block.

However, there’s more work to be done before skaters can try it out.

The Marathon County Parks Department reports they’ve been working quickly on it due to the lower temperatures this week.

Employees say the lack of snow underneath the ice will make it more difficult to maintain.

“Right now you can clearly see the concrete and the turf underneath showing through,” Operation Manager Bob Stephens said. “So, we’re going to be monitoring it on a daily basis, making sure that it’s safe for the public to use.”

Stephens and his fellow employees hope to have it finished before the upcoming Winterfest event, which takes place downtown at the end of the January.

He added that the completion of the rink is dependent on upcoming weather.

Hi Restaurant to replace Chang Garden in downtown Wausau, serve plethora of Chinese food

Photo: Laura Schulte/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Photo: Laura Schulte/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Megan Stringer, Wausau Daily Herald

WAUSAU - A new Chinese restaurant is set to replace Chang Garden in downtown Wausau. Hi Restaurant will be the new restaurant at 102 Jefferson St. A Chang Garden employee said the new owners will take over on Wednesday, but there isn't a definite opening date yet for the new eatery. 

Owners will also be looking for new employees. 

A menu posted to Hi Restaurant's Facebook page shows a variety of sushi, soups and Chinese lunch choices. There is a range of vegetarian options and curry dishes, as well. Delivery will be available with a minimum order of $15.

Sunday will be Chang Garden's last day in business, but it can still be found in Weston at 4215 Barbican Ave. Chang Garden owners made the decision, announced earlier this month, to close the Wausau location to focus on their Weston location. That location recently underwent renovations that include gas grills so that guests can cook their own Chinese barbecue and hot pot set-ups.

Hi Restaurant is a member of the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce. The company registered with the state as Hi, Yummy! in early December. 

Hi Restaurant owners said in a Facebook message Friday that more information about the new venture would be forthcoming.

CBD on menus in Wausau, but human use studies are limited

By:  Ally Wallenta - WAOW

By: Ally Wallenta - WAOW

WAUSAU (WAOW) —  CBD is now being added into drinks at bars across the state, including in Wausau.

One of the owners of Daly’s in downtown Wausau said customers have been intrigued by the new addition to the menu.

“People are interested in having CBD with their cocktail,” Owner Tee Daly said.

The trend started after hemp was legalized as an industrial crop in Wisconsin.

CBD oil is a hemp product, and can contain trace amounts of  THC,which is also found in marijuana. However, CBD oil doesn’t cause a high like marijuana does.

The Great Dane is also serving CBD beverages, including beer.

“The owners, I know, believe in the benefits of CBD,” said General Manager Corey Young.

One scientist said that CBD can help with anxiety, sleep and inflammation. But the studies on human use are still


One concern about CBD is that it’s not regulated like other drugs.

“A drug you buy from the pharmacy, there’s a lot of control over it,” said Cecilia Hilliard, the Director of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Hilliard warns that like any crop, hemp can be contaminated by pesticides, heavy metals and mold.

She suggest asking about the CBD being used to ensure its quality.

Both Daly’s and the Great Dane said they work with suppliers to make sure their CBD is up to standards.

Ringing in the New Year in Downtown Wausau

By:  Sarah McGrew - WAOW

By: Sarah McGrew - WAOW

WAUSAU (WAOW)– New Year’s Eve parties were hosted across Central Wisconsin, with several in Downtown Wausau.

Daly’s hosted a New Year’s Eve party for the second year in a row. Dancing, drinks, and a few magic tricks were part of the night’s entertainment.

Party-goers talked about their New Year’s resolutions. Some were to simply enjoy time with family and the community, and others said they had big trips planned.

Owner James Daly has unique take. “If you don’t make resolutions, you can’t break them,” he said.


Shepherd & Schaller of Wausau named one of best Midwest ski shops in national contest

Photo: T’xer Zhon Kha/Daily Herald Media

Photo: T’xer Zhon Kha/Daily Herald Media

By: Elizabeth A Waggoner, Wausau Daily Herald

WAUSAU - Local icon Shepherd & Schaller Sporting Goods is one of the two best ski shops in the Midwest, according to a recent online contest.

Freeskier magazine asked people to vote for their favorite shops across the United States and Canada. Shepherd & Schaller was the only Wisconsin shop named among what the magazine called "Midwest Leaders." The store also held the top spot in the Midwest for a portion of the contest. In the end, it was bumped into second place by a Twin Cities store.

Shepherd & Schaller, at 324 Scott St. in downtown Wausau, will celebrate 70 years in business in 2019. The owners have worked hard to remain relevant, evolving to meet customers' expectations.

With loyal customers from across Wisconsin as well as Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, South Dakota and beyond, owners are proud to offer genuine service and expert advice, co-owner Theresa Shepherd wrote in an email to USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. 

"Transplants to the area, especially those from warmer climates, make us a first stop for advice on coping with and enjoying Wisconsin winters," Shepherd wrote.

The store carries a broad selection of ski equipment, and ski tune-ups are one of its most popular services, according to a news release. Equipment rentals are an option for winter sport enthusiasts who aren't ready to buy.

Daily rentals of skis, snowboards, ice skates and snowshoes will become available after Christmas and when adequate natural snow is in place, Shepherd wrote. For information and reservations, call 715-845-5432.

Young entrepreneurs thriving in Wausau

By:  Sarah McGrew

By: Sarah McGrew

WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW)– Being your own boss before age 25 has become a reality for two young adults in Wausau.

Kayla Ermeling opened Ignite Nutrition in Downtown Wausau when she was 23 years-old. Now, 24, she doesn’t regret a moment of it.

“It’s been a tough, exciting, adventurous year. Lots of learning,” she said about starting her own business.

Ignite serves teas and smoothies in a cozy downtown location. So far, business has been good.

“We’re making smoothies and they’re cold, so I always say if we can it through the first winter we’re golden. It’s up from here,” Ermeling said.

Her advice to other young people interested in business is to just go for it. “I’m 24, if I decide this is not my purpose in life, I’m young enough to change it.”

Down the street in the Wausau Center Mall, Quinn Coyle, 21, is the owner of Flashback.

Coyle started the vintage clothing line when he was just a teenager in high school at Wausau West. He started by selling t-shirts to other students. Now, Flashback has it’s own store front.

“People will come up to me and be like ‘man you’re only 21 and you have a store,'” he said. “I love being here, there’s never a dull moment.”

Flashback sells shirts, jackets, hats and other accessories. Coyle designs them himself.

Both entrepreneurs said the Wausau Community has been supportive of their business endeavors.

“Everybody wants to see someone follow their dreams and do what they want, and not have anybody tell them no,” Coyle said.

Shepherd & Schaller in online voting contest for best in Midwest Wausau sporting goods store up for 'top shop' honor

By Heather Poltrock

By Heather Poltrock

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Shepherd & Schaller is in the running to win bragging rights for Top Shop in the county.

Freeskier magazine created the Top Shop Contest to recognize shops that serve skiers, and skiing as an industry. 

Voting began a few weeks ago. Voting ends Thursday.

Shepherd & Schaller sells outdoor sporting goods. It's located in downtown Wausau.

As of 3 p.m., Wednesday the shop was in second place in the Midwest region.

Downtown Wausau neighborhood spreading Christmas cheer

Michael Leischner - WSAU

Michael Leischner - WSAU

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -- A new Christmas tradition is beginning to take shape along 3rd Street near Downtown Wausau.

The second annual "Christmas Lives Here" event will see an area of 3rd Street near the Glass Hat bar transform into a wonderland of decorated trees of all sizes and colors. Blake Opal-Wahoske is a resident of the area and Director of the Wausau River District, he calls the event an opportunity to continue the revitalization of a growing area.

"With the completion of the first phase of the townhomes and the Riverlife Project, the neighborhood is experiencing a little bit of a renaissance," he said.

Last year's project saw about 14 trees line the street, and this year the group is looking to top that in a big way. Opal-Wahoske says anyone interested in placing a tree in the area can contact either the Glass Hat for placement or his office directly at 715-297-1829. Information is also available at the Wausau River District's Facebook page.

"Anyone that wants to spread the Christmas spirit is more than welcome to participate," he adds. The only stipulation on decorations for the tree is that they be tasteful and not offensive.

Hundreds of homemade winter items to be placed around downtown Wausau


By Maria Szatkowski

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Hundreds of hand-knitted and crocheted scarves, hats, mittens and blankets will grace the streets of downtown Wausau Friday night ahead of the holiday parade.

It's all thanks to a local group who makes the items, and then donates them back to the community for anyone who may need or want them.

Chase the Chill first started in Canada, but thanks to a local woman, it's now taking off in north central Wisconsin. 

"It's just interesting seeing people 'oh my gosh, I can have this? It's so pretty' or 'I'm cold.' Whether you like it or need it, you can take it," said Sarah Kreager, founder of the local chapter of Chase the Chill. "A bunch of people that are homecrafters get together, they make scarves, they donate items to make scarves, mittens, anything really for cold weather."

What's been a hobby for Kreager for years, is now a way for her to give back to the community. Chase the Chill Central Wisconsin is a group that collects and makes those handmade winter items. Members place them around fences and light posts in downtown Wausau.

"The amount of people that were interested in participating, or helping out in any way they could, whether it be with yarn or donations for funds to get more yarn, we've had people send stuff up for this year as far as Texas," said Kreager.

The winter items are out in time for Wausau's Holiday Parade.

"It was nice being able to see people throughout the time, either come by us where we were standing watching the parade, that would come and be like 'Oh, what is this? Did somebody lose their scarf?' and just being 'Nope, it's free for the taking," said Kreager.

This year, more than 300 homemade items will be out in the community on Friday.

"It's just spreading joy, spreading happiness. It's something small that I can do that if a kid needs it, or if an adult needs it, or if there's a homeless person that happenstances downtown...letting them know that people care. Even people that don't know them, still care," said Kreager.

The caring will continue, as donations are already being knitted or crocheted for next year.

"I've already started the next couple scarves that I know won't be finished by tomorrow night, so it's good that we're getting a jump start on next year already," said Kreager.

Wausau Holiday Parade draws hundreds of families

By    Jerel Ballard    - WAOW

By Jerel Ballard - WAOW

WAUSAU, Wis (WSAW) -- The annual Wausau Holiday Parade held on Friday drew hundreds of families from throughout north central Wisconsin. More than 50 businesses and non-profit organizations participated in the parade, each one with a unique float covered in Christmas decorations. 

“I enjoy seeing the community come out and support our businesses while being able to spend time with families and friends,” stated Katae Ulrick who attended the parade with her daughter. 

The parade started at Marathon Park and continued along Stewart Avenue ending at the 400 Block of downtown Wausau. Attendees started arriving as early as 4:30 p.m. to claim their spot; despite the chilly weather many people came prepared with chairs, blankets, hats, and gloves.

“We live in Wisconsin, I have gotten used to it,” Ulrick added. “As long as you layer up, you will be fine but luckily, the weather is not that bad this year.” 

Hot chocolate was provided at the end of the parade for participants and attendees. 

“I come to the parade every year,” included Kimberly Bargender who watched the parade with her brother. “Watching how happy my little brother gets as he watched the parade brings me back to when I was growing up,” Bargender said.

Small Business Saturday successful for area businesses



Now that Black Friday has wrapped up shops all across America and right here in central Wisconsin geared up for Small Business Saturday.

Saturday’s rain and muggy weather did not stop shoppers from checking out what their local stores had to offer.

“It reminds people that we are down here and let’s people know what new businesses have come there’s a lot of people that don’t come very often and just around Christmas shopping it is a reminder to the community,” said Katie Crotteau the floral designer at Evolutions in Design downtown.

Crotteau said her store had heavy traffic throughout Saturday morning.

They were promoting 25 percent off items that were on a tree or had a tree in it.

“I think this weekend just proves to everyone that people want to come out and see and experience what Christmas is like in retail and kind of that old school style of decorating and getting out,” Crotteau said.

All throughout our area people were shopping local and taking advantage of the holiday season.

“When you come in here you usually end up seeing our kids running around so you aren’t only supporting us and the local Wisconsin cheese makers and other artisans but you are also supporting our family,” said Maggie Christians the owner of Navieve Fromagerie.

One woman tells News 9 she prefers to shop local rather than chain stores.

“I think the big box store are taking over everything they are driving out local merchants,” said Carolyn Susor.” The local merchants they tend to specialize more and you don’t see that everything and that’s important.”

Shopping local comes with a big benefit to the community, according to experts.

The Wausau River District said if you spend $100 at a local business, $68 of that stays in the community.

Downtown Wausau sees heavy foot traffic with return of popular Exhibitour event


By: Mitchell A. Skurzewski, Wausau Daily Herald

WAUSAU - People came downtown to enjoy art, each other's company, sip some wine and enjoy meandering through local businesses on Friday night. The Exhibitour event features local artists' works in downtown shops and at each stop there were snacks and wine available. Downtown businesses were turned into art galleries and were a great way for local artists to be recognized by a wide audience. 

Exhibitour, which hasn't happened in downtown Wausau since 2012, saw people buying paintings, enjoying wine and exploring downtown Wausau and the local businesses. It was a win-win, said local artist Judy Pliskie. 

"I am happy this event is back because it is great exposure for local artists and it brings people in to check out downtown businesses," Pliskie said. "It's good advertisement for everyone involved and gives people a nice night out."

Pliskie makes necklaces and jewelry that are one-of-a-kind items with no two being the same, she said. She has been making the jewelry, including custom pieces, for 13 years. Her necklaces were displayed at Evolutions by Design on Friday and they are available year-round at the downtown store. 

There were 21 downtown businesses that participated in the event, including La Prima, Downtown Grocery, Janke Bookstore and Jefferson Street Inn.

Wausau council approves parking kiosks purchase

parking meters.jpg

By: Michael Leischner WSAU

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -- The Wausau City Council cleared the final hurdle to implement the city's upcoming downtown parking changes on Wednesday.

Leaders unanimously approved spending $303,064 to purchase and install up to 10 payment kiosks to be located throughout downtown. The stations will replace the city's current fleet of parking meters, which are so old that the city can't find parts for them anymore.

"Later on in the fall all the equipment; the kiosks, signs everything associated with the changes that are coming was approved. Now it's official - it will be coming here in the fall," said Mayor Robert Mielke.

He adds that the response he's gotten to the changes has been largely positive. "Especially from business owners downtown and residents, a lot of this has been a long time coming. I do believe most people are going to be very pleased with the results when everything happens."

RELATED: Downtown parking changes coming to Wausau

The Police Department's parking enforcement division will not begin ticketing violators right away. Mielke says there will be a grace period of up to two months to allow residents and visitors to adjust. Additionally, residents will be given one free warning each year for violating the new rules.

"Yes, change is hard, and I know there are computers involved. It will take some education, but it will be a forgiving process for the first couple of months while this is being implemented," added Mielke.

Mielke says residents who are smartphone-savvy will also find convenience in the fact that the app that will be used to pay for parking is the same one already in use in several other cities statewide. "Oh gosh Stevens Point, Appleton, La Crosse all come to mind. I believe Eau Claire and Green Bay all use the same system, so they can utilize that service here like they would there too."

The Council held its regular August meeting on Wednesday due to the Wisconsin primary election on Tuesday.

Concerts on the Square Season Winding Down

IMG_3952 (copy).jpg

By: Liz Holbrook, WSAU

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -- Another Wednesday brings another Concert on the Square in the 400 block of downtown Wausau. Tonight's concert features The Last Revel a rockabilly folk string group.

Rockabilly may not be a genre of music that more modern audiences would find familiar. Executive Director of Wausau Events Sara Hujar explains the genre as, "It's really a blend of some rock and roll, a lot of rhythm and blues, and also some folk mixed in there,” She remarks that the band is really easy to listen to and a band to check out even if you don't know the music genre. 

But tonight’s concert is not just about music. Hujar spoke about how a local non-profit will also be a part of the concert experience. "We'll also have Blessings in a Backpack, a great local non-profit. They'll be collecting boxes of mac and cheese that they use for their program to stuff backpacks for children in need." Hujar recommends that those attending the concert bring a box of mac and cheese to donate if they're able. 

While the forecast for this week's concert is clear, there have been recent concerns about weather affecting the series. Hujar explains that concerts affected by weather are not able to be rescheduled. "Unfortunately everything with the contracts, we have to pay the bands on the days they are scheduled to perform."  The Concert on the Square season continues for two more weeks with Porky's Groove Machine on August 15th and Bumpus on August 22nd. 

Once the concert series is over Wausau Events will turn their focus to the Beer and Bacon Fest taking place in late September.

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