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Portage holiday parade returns, remembers Waukesha victims

Just days after a deadly tragedy in Waukesha, Portage held its own holiday parade with remembrance and a spirit of hope.
Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 10:08 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 26, 2021 at 10:21 PM CST
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PORTAGE, Wis. (WMTV) - Just days after a deadly tragedy in Waukesha, Portage held its own holiday parade with remembrance and a spirit of hope.

The annual Downtown Portage Holiday Parade returned Friday night after a year in hiatus due to COVID-19. According to the Portage Area Chamber of Commerce, which organized the event, more than 30 groups took part in the march down Highway 33.

“This is so amazing,” Pam Burns said. “I’m so glad we got to see it again after not having it. My granddaughter is in it. I’m so happy.”

Portage police led the way, with a high school marching band playing in the middle and Santa Clause waving from the top of a firetruck.

“Community events are so important in various small towns, and this is one thing that we wanted to be able to still do in our community,” Marianne Hanson, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, said.

In the aftermath of the Waukesha parade crash, which killed six people and injured dozens more, Hanson said organizers discussed whether to move forward with the parade in Portage.

She explained why the event continued: “The police department had told us they will have additional police personnel here on site, and they will have different people in different areas in the community. I think it’s important for us to be able to remember what happened and to look at that but move forward.”

Before the night ended with the lighting of a holiday tree at Commerce Plaza, community members took a moment of silence to remember the victims in the Waukesha crash.

“It’s a very tragic situation, and it should never have happened,” Dan Gaffey said.

Burns said, “I hope and pray for them. I’m wishing the best.”

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