Grafton celebrates holiday season, honors Waukesha victims with annual parade

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GRAFTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Last Sunday's Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy left several area parade directors in a very difficult position, having to decide whether to cancel their respective events out of respect for those injured and lost or push forward. It's a decision that Grafton's Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pam King did not contemplate lightly.

"Sunday night, nobody knew how this happened, why it happened, and what the idea behind it was," King explained Saturday morning, referring to Waukesha. "Until we knew that, we weren't at all ready to move forward. "Once we figured out that it was certainly a one-off, that it was a random act, then we decided that we would move forward but that we would need to make changes both with our staffing both with people and with equipment so that we could keep people safe."

Grafton has one of the largest holiday parades in the area and was tasked with the unique challenge of being the first parade following the Waukesha incident that left 6 dead and dozens of others injured. The safety measures included snowplows blocking traffic to roads where crowds were seated.

"We've done our best and I feel really good about that," said King, regarding the decision to push forward and the safety measures put in place. "I also respect that there are some units that chose not to come. There are families with young children that are concerned about safety and I respect and agree 100 percent."

Thoughts for those in Waukesha could be felt throughout the parade route, with two separate entries designated to honoring Waukesha victims, the first parade banner to start the route reading 'We Stand with Waukesha.' Other floats sprinkled throughout the parade had signs of support for the Waukesha community.

"Thinking of our Waukesha people," said Jane Boesch, who attended the parade with her close friend Sue Duffy. "We are glad that we still are doing our parade with our thoughts and prayers and our hearts for them."

"Our hearts are just shocked by what happened," Duffy added. "Any support we can give them is good."

A community tradition continued, with the thoughts and well-being of Waukesha on most people's minds.

"Whether or not they're here, they're here in our hearts," King added. "We're going to do our best to honor them."

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