Waukesha marks one year since Christmas parade tragedy

Member of the Dancing Grannies reflects on the emotions of the parade on the one-year anniversary.
Residents in Waukesha are asked to light up their homes with blue lights.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 4:23 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2022 at 10:29 PM CST
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WAUKESHA, Wis. (WMTV) - Waukesha turns blue Monday night to mark one year since six people were killed and dozens more injured during the city’s annual Christmas Parade. Mayor Shawn Reilly asked the community to light their homes and businesses in blue to show unity and support for the victims.

Reilly and other city leaders were joined by Gov. Tony Evers on Monday for a ceremony to commemorate one year since the tragedy. The event started at 4:39 p.m. at Les Paul Performance Center, in Cutler Park.

“There’s something thats very comforting about being together here today,” said president and co-leader of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, Jan Kwiatkowski. “It just feels, it feels good to be with people who care, people who understand and don’t have to be explained to how you feel, people who just get it.”

A limited number of blue lights were handed out at the ceremony for those who need them, organizers said. Additionally, blue glow bracelets were distributed, courtesy of Educator’s Credit Union. For those who could not make it, the ceremony was streamed on the City’s Facebook page.

Flags across Wisconsin were lowered to half-staff Monday as well in honor of the victims of that tragic day. In his statement announcing the order, Evers said he and his wife Kathy “are thinking of the entire Waukesha community, the six people whose lives were mercilessly taken, and all of the loved ones, friends, first responders, and neighbors for whom this anniversary will be especially difficult and traumatic.”

Evers also pointed out the outpouring of “kindness, empathy, and compassion” that followed and the resilience of the Waukesha community over the last year.

“Our community has been and will be defined by our unity in support of those who lost loved ones, support of those who endured physical injuries, and support of those who suffered emotional trauma,” Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow and Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly added in a joint statement that accompanied the flag order. “We begin another chapter in our journey as a community in providing support for those who need healing and finding peace.”

Mayor Shawn Reilly asked the community to light their homes and businesses in blue to show unity and support for the victims.

In addition to flags being lowered on Monday, Wisconsin senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin have introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate to mark the one-year anniversary.

In a statement Monday morning, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos recounted the day of the parade, describing it as “a violent, evil act that could have been prevented.”

In a statement Monday morning, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos recounted the day of the parade, describing it as “a violent, evil act that could have been prevented.

“But today isn’t about the evil; it’s about remembering the community members we lost, supporting those still recovering, and thanking all the first responders and neighbors who rushed in to help,” he continued. “After this, we know Waukesha is not just strong, but stronger.”

Attorney General Josh Kaul, too, celebrated the fortitude of the Waukesha community when recognizing the anniversary of the tragedy.

“In the days and months since, the entire world has witnessed the strength and resiliency of the people of Waukesha, who have come together to mourn and to rebuild,” he said, adding his appreciation to law enforcement officers and first responders who rushed to help that day.

Waukesha will turn blue Monday night to mark one year since six people were killed and dozens more injured during the city’s annual Christmas Parade.

At the ceremony, attendees including Dancing Grannies member Jan Kwiatowski talked about the importance of closure, saying the ceremony was another milestone on the road to healing.

“The first year after any death, you hit all those milestones,” said Kwiatkowski. “This has forever changed Waukesha; it’s it’s forever changed me; it’s forever changed anybody who was involved and just how many people were connected to this event.”

Last week, the man who drove through the parade was handed six life sentences with no opportunity for parole as well as more than 700 more years in prison after being convicted on six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and a slew of other charges.

Last week, the man who drove through the parade was handed six life sentences with no opportunity for parole.
Attorney General Josh Kaul, too, celebrated the fortitude of the Waukesha community when recognizing the anniversary of the tragedy.

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