WAUKESHA — TMJ4 News and the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce partnered together and announced that TMJ4 will be broadcasting this year's Waukesha Christmas Parade.
One of the groups that suffered unspeakable tragedy during the Waukesha parade in 2021 was the Dancing Grannies. They lost 3 dancers and one member of the group's husband. Now, they are back on the parade circuit but what happened last year is never far from their mind.
Lacing up their shoes, the Dancing Grannies gathered in a Milwaukee park last week to practice for their upcoming 4th of July shows.
The resilient group got back to parades just weeks after the tragedy in Waukesha. But it was Milwaukee's St. Patrick's Day parade where many of the women performed. Some were battling the scars of physical injuries suffered in Waukesha and others were battling injuries that couldn't be seen.
"I think the trama piece is the hardest thing. Not only the fear and the memory of coming back but the loss of the people," said co-leader Jan Kwiatkowski.
Virginia Sorenson, known to the grannies as Ginny, died. So did Leanna Owen, Tamara Durand, and Wilhelm Hospel.
I asked Sorensen, you probably think you're prepared to show up in Waukesha but it's really going to be that day where it's really gonna come down to hit ya?
"Uhhuh. Right. Yeah and that's how trauma works. You can do everything you can. There's body memory there's emotional memory there's grief that just surprises you," she said.
And while some might be ready, everyone may not be.
"Committing to this year's Waukesha parade, we've told them if they don't feel comfortable doing it they don't have to," said co-leader Jean Knutson.
For now, they'll practice. Learning the dances, shaking the pom poms, and coming together to remember those they lost… now, their guardian angels.
"Every now and then one of us will look up and is like Ginny would be proud, lee would kick your butt."
If you missed the July 4th performance and don't want to wait until November to see them perform, you can check out their benefit fundraiser on July 23. It's happening at 2800 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue from 1 p.m. until 11 p.m.