During late Summer and early Fall, hundreds of umbrellas form a colorful canopy over 3rd Street in downtown Wausau, giving pedestrians some nice shade and something unique above them to see and photograph. The popular umbrellas, which now are a prominent part of the Third Street Lifestyle Center logo, were the brainchild of Compass Properties’ Mark Craig. Mark was inspired by the colorful floating umbrellas that bathe the streets of Agueda, Portugal during its annual Agueda Festival each summer . He thought a display based on the idea might work for downtown Wausau.
Compass Properties enlisted the help of Rob Eriksen of Wausau Canvas Company and Liz Field of the Downtown Wausau River District to create plans for the umbrella display, back in the summer of 2015. Once the umbrellas were ordered, Ericksen helped connect each umbrella to a wire canopy, which the city of Wausau installed to hang Christmas holiday decorations.
“The floating umbrellas are a way to celebrate the uniqueness of the downtown Wausau area and all the wonderful businesses and organizations that make it such a special place to work, shop, live and play,” Mark said. “We’re really pleased how it’s caught on, from people stopping me on the street to make a positive comment, to the many photos and comments we see in articles and social media. It seems folks really like the umbrellas.”
For the past few years, the umbrellas remain over Third Street until the city’s holiday decorations replace them. However, Downtown Wausau’s signature umbrellas came tumbling down last November, under the weight of a heavy snowfall. A gust of wind lifted the canopy in the air, and the colorful umbrellas came crashing down. According to an eye witness, “it was pretty cool to see.”
Despite the temporary setback, we’re hopeful the umbrellas will return next summer, perhaps with some new colors and lights. In the meantime, check out some of the buzz created by our colorful downtown Wausau signature umbrellas.