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Waukesha Strong: Thousands turn out to Waukesha Memorial Day parade after Christmas tragedy

Posted at 4:48 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 18:15:08-04

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Thousands of people turned out for the Memorial Day Parade in Waukesha on Monday.

Many spectators said they wanted to honor the fallen, support the community and continue their healing journey. Last November, six people were killed and dozens were injured in the Christmas parade.

"We were here for the Christmas parade, and this was a really tough spot here," said Henrietta Long.

Monday's parade route was shorter and a little different, but it still traced some of the same spots in November's tragedy.

High schools march in Waukesha parade

"We parked in the same spot we did in November, we walked down the same road coming down here," said Krista Krauter. "Naturally, you think about what happened, and so, it's really good for us to be here today, and life goes on."

Back in November, several members of the Waukesha South High School marching band were hurt, including Tyler Pudliener. He marched on Monday with all three high school marching band teams combined.

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"I feel like it's a breakthrough for us," said Waukesha West student Alicia Olk, who was playing the flute in the band.

Crowds cheered and plenty of families lined the sidewalks.

Drew Smith is a United States Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. He came to the parade with his family to observe Memorial Day.

"During my tour in Iraq, we lost two veterans," Smith said. "It means a lot for us to come out and pay our respects."

"I needed to come back here to know that I could," said Angela Theus.

Theus's son, AJ, was at the parade in November. He was there waving to his friends in the band when it happened. The parade on Monday was emotional for Theus.

"I felt it was really nice, all the schools coming together," AJ Theus said.

"I told him when he's a parent, he'll understand," Theus said. "We're Waukesha Strong."

"I'm going to say for some people, this was really tough," said Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly. "I did see some people that I knew, if they weren't injured in the parade, they were witness to the parade. And I saw them down there, and it was very heartening to see them there."

At a ceremony following the parade, Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson gave a short speech, noting how resilient the Waukesha community is.

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