'A sense of peace': Waukesha Historical Museum works to preserve items from Christmas Parade tragedy

’A sense of peace’: Waukesha Historical Museum works to preserve items from Christmas Parade tragedy

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- For the first time since it was removed, CBS 58 is getting a look at the items being preserved after the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy.

The memorial was removed on Dec. 29, and the items were taken to the Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum.

The items range from children's toys, to stuffed animals and the six crosses placed to honor the six victims killed.

Museum staff, and volunteers like Mary Ellen Schickowski, are handling the effects with great care.

"The first thought as it was all coming in the door was just a sense of sadness," she said. "But now that I see it's coming together and it's going to be placed somewhere, so that people will remember, it's kind of a sense of peace."

Bonnie Byrd is executive director of the Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum.

All of the items were weathered by the snow, rain and freezing cold.

Byrd said the first seven days after removal were critical in preservation.

"The only items that didn't make it into this room were flowers, organics, greens that were already decaying or as they acclimated began falling apart," Byrd said.

She said staff and volunteers value the public's trust, and this work gets at the "heart of what museums do".

They hope the permanent display details what happened in November and that it helps people process it all.

"Time, in a way, stopped because it didn't make sense. And so, our work of preserving then what our community did to remember and grieve is us taking that stoppage of time and helping pull it forward into the future," Byrd said.

Next week, the Waukesha Common Council will meet to decide whether or not to create a permanent memorial commission.

The museum will work with the city, the commission and the community to decide next steps.

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