WAUKESHA, Wis. — One year after the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy, the community came together for a remembrance ceremony. Hundreds of people braved the cold temperatures to remember the lives lost, the dozens injured and the many more forever impacted.
Speakers included Mayor Shawn Riley, Gov. Tony Evers, Waukesha Fire Chief Steve Howard, and Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson. All shared a message of unity and resiliency.
"Ordinary people stepped up and helped where they could, used what training they had from small things to great things. But specifically, little acts from holding someone's hand, a kind word, comfort during the tragedy has gone a long way," said Fire Chief Howard.
"This city and this community showed the power of what united truly means," Police Chief Thompson added.
The mayor asked the city to once again unite with a blue light, shining from porches and businesses across the city.
It is the kind of support that was shown at the remembrance ceremony and the shining of simple blue lights that help Tyler Pudleiner keep his spirits high.
"It's hard to believe it's been a year," Pudleiner said following the remembrance ceremony.
Pudleiner was hit by the SUV that drove through the parade last year and suffered severe injuries. He was walking with his high school marching band.
"I've got a couple of injuries that we're still dealing with. My right leg is the last one that we're dealing with. But hopefully after one or two more surgeries, depending on what happens, I'll be through that and can really focus on the mental side of things now. And we'll get through it," Pudleiner said of the challenges he still faces. "This week has been very tough to get through that. Hard to pay attention sometimes. But a night like this kind of reassures everyone in the community that we can get through it together."
The support he's seen over the last year has given him the strength and courage to return to the Waukesha Christmas Parade this year. And he's doing it in a big way.
"I'm entering my pickup truck and we're going to do a stronger together float. So, that's going to be something cool not only for my personal healing path but a way to show and thank the community for all the support they've given me and show them that I appreciate it," Pudleiner said.
The Waukesha Christmas Parade will be on December 4th this year.