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Waukesha Christmas Parade's 2022 theme 'Peace on Earth' hopes to heal trauma

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 19:41:25-04

WAUKESHA, Wis. — TMJ4 will broadcast this year’s Waukesha’s Christmas Parade live on Nov. 20, 2022. It’s a way for community members, who’ve been through so much, to watch the tradition from wherever they feel most comfortable.

The theme for this year's event is peace on earth. It comes as Waukesha still tries to move past last year's parade attack that killed six people and injured dozens of others.

The victims who died:

  • Jackson Spark, 6
  • Jane Kulich, 52
  • Tamara Durand, 52
  • LeAnna Owen, 71
  • Ginny Sorenson, 79
  • Bill Hospel, 81

Hundreds of others who witnessed the parade attack, but were not injured, are still recovering emotionally.

“It’s been difficult for me to even go into downtown Waukesha,” said Carson Kubsch. "I appreciate the opportunity to watch from home."

Kubsch and her 10-year-old daughter, Cammy, still see a counselor regularly, in an attempt to work through what they experienced on Nov. 21, 2021.

“We were enjoying the parade, and everything was going great until we saw the SUV,” Kubsch said. “It came barreling through. We were right by the street, near the Dancing Grannies at the time. We really witnessed a lot of terrible things. The moments after were intense, as we ran to safety. No one knew what was going on.”

The smallest things can take them back to that feeling of fear.

“There are still triggers, you know?” she said. “We walk out of a grocery store and kids are running to their car being loud, and our hearts will stop for a minute. We get taken back to the moment.”

Despite that trauma, knowing Waukesha's Christmas Parade is going on this year with a theme of peace is important to Kubsch.

“I feel like the community has done so much to turn this around and find some sort of a silver lining, instead of only looking at the negative,” she said. “We've overcome so much together as a community."

The main sponsor of this year's Christmas Parade is Ascension Wisconsin Hospitals, which opened a neighborhood emergency department and hospital in Waukesha last year, about a month before the tragedy happened. The staff treated some of the people who were injured.

“With any event or tragedy that happens within the world of healthcare we do our due diligence in making sure our staff feels supported,” said Daniel Gell, Regional Chief Nursing Officer for Ascension Wisconsin. “Obviously, everyone’s primary focus is on the patients, but it’s important to follow up with staff too. Check how they’re coping.”

Many of the doctors and nurses at Ascension’s Waukesha facility are part of the community. When it hurts, they hurt.

“Whether you're a doctor or nurse who lives locally, and serves on a local board, or have children that are participating in school-aged events, being able to stand up as a large sponsor of this event means just as much to our staff,” Gell said. “They're able to give back to their community and have people see them not just as health care providers but as neighbors serving neighbors.”

Some of the team from Ascension will be at this year’s Christmas Parade, offering moral support and care for anyone who needs anything.

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