WAUKESHA, Wis. — A crowd turned out to honor Waukesha's 125-year history as well as mourn those killed and hurt in the Christmas parade.
"Tonight is certainly different than what we had originally planned," Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said. "Our year ended tragically. Our hearts are heavy, and we are still in mourning, and we are still trying to figure out how to take steps forward."
As part of the city's 125th year celebration, the community was invited to see which items would be placed in Waukesha's 50-year time capsule. Some items showcase Waukesha's long history, and others represent the tragedy at the Christmas parade. Some of those items include a baseball hat from the Waukesha Blazers team, an Xtreme Dance T-shirt, pictures, newspapers and Wauksha Strong signs.
"It's important for us to come together and kind of put a capstone on the end of our 125th, and also to really acknowledge and still continue to support the people who have been hurt," Mayor Reilly said.
The evening began with a ceremony to lower the Waukesha flag outside City Hall. Then officials held a moment of silence for the victims of the parade at the beginning of the Common Council meeting. They showed a video of Waukesha's milestone events over the 2021 year. Mayor Reilly then sealed the time capsule.
"A lot of conversations are about how tragic this has been, but also it's people saying our community stepped up," Mayor Reilly said.
During the meeting, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County Amy Lindner gave an update on the United for Waukesha Community Fund. She announced the fund has raised more than $4.4 million, and they have started making initial distributions of $25,000 in checks to families who lost loved ones. She said they will open applications for families of those who have been hospitalized Friday.
Lindner says the donations has come "overwhelmingly" from the local community, and they have also received donations from all 50 states and 17 countries.
"Just a huge community of people who have seen what's happened here, who care what's happened here and want to be part of how this community heals," Lindner said.
Mayor Reilly said he wants to start the process of making a plan for a permanent memorial. He said he doesn't expect it to be built for "quite a period of time" and hopes to discuss it again with Common Council in January.
"There's no hurry, but we want to get it started," Reilly said. "The hurry is not to find a site, decide what it looks like. What I want to do, and I'm even telling the Common Council, that we'll be involved, but the community is going to make the decisions on this."