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Appleton Christmas paradegoers remain hopeful as city recognizes Waukesha tragedy victims

Posted at 10:06 AM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 11:06:17-05

APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) — It was a night Appleton residents hoped was a sign of resiliency.

"The lights and the music and the bands... it's just the feeling of the holidays," parade goer Kelly Cheke said.

And it was a celebration just two days after the Christmas parade in Waukesha that ended in tragedy.

BACKGROUND

"[It feels] a little scary kind of deep down, but safe," Cheke said.

Before the start of Appleton's Christmas Parade Tuesday night, a group of city staff and elected officials took part in a silent procession along the route as a way to honor the victims in Waukesha.

"That was definitely a somber moment, but I think enjoying the parade and seeing everybody together really has lifted everybody's spirits if they were even down to begin with," Appleton resident Eamon Bauman said.

After Sunday's tragedy, the Appleton Police Department announced it would have an enhanced presence along College Avenue.

"You notice all of the barricades everywhere," Cheke said.

The mayor's office released a statement Monday, saying the city would proceed with the parade.

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Shortly before the 7 p.m. start, a group of city staff and elected officials will take part in a silent procession down the parade route as a dedication to the victims and families in Waukesha.

Cheke brought her two children downtown, and says the events in Waukesha hit close to home.

"We know we're being taken care of by our community and it's just a good feeling," she said.

While some cities across Wisconsin have decided to cancel their Christmas parades, Fox Valley residents believe the celebration in Appleton needed to go on.

"It's really just the human spirit carrying on," Bauman said.

Appleton was one of the first cities in the state to host a Christmas parade after the events in Waukesha.

With a large presence of police and security, the parade went on without any issues.