Milwaukee Dancing Grannies make first public appearance since Waukesha parade attack
FRANKLIN, Wis. (CBS 58) - The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies made their first public appearance since losing four of their members in the Waukesha Christmas parade attack. Saturday, the group led the Franklin Christmas parade to honor the members taken too soon.
Those members include Virginia Sorenson, Lee Owen, Tamara Durand and Wilhelm Hospel.
CBS 58 spoke with Ali Wachter and Jan Kwiatkowski. Both women have been members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies for several years.
Wachter was the one carrying the group's banner in the Waukesha parade on November 21. She says she'll never forget the moment her life was almost taken.
"I just started hearing people scream and I've done enough parades over the years to know the difference between enjoyment that we are yelling we love you kind of things and a horror scream and it was a horror scream. I heard the tires squeal. I turned around and I saw the car coming for basically me and the banner. I jumped out of the way so I would not be hit," said Wachter.
Hand-in-hand, the grannies decided to move forward together at the Franklin parade.
"We're out there bringing joy to the world, that's what we do. It's important that we're out here, doing what we do. Honoring the mix of joy and bringing joy into the midst of this really dark time," explained Kwiatkowski.
A time now filled with cheers from the crowd as the grannies marched through Franklin. They held a special sign, honoring all four members they've lost. Members, Kwiatkowski says are truly missed.
"To do this you have to love what you're doing and be a person full of life and energy and all of them were," said Kwiatkowski.
And now, the grannies will carry their spirits with every step in every future parade.
"We did not want those four members to be known as that being their last parade. Walking in the parade to honor them and to show their names. To show that they were loved and they belong in this group," said Wachter.
The grannies hope to focus on the silver lining, feeling inspired by a heartfelt message from Jan's Grandson.
"He said grandma, I'm really glad I came. Seeing all these people reminds me there really are more good people in the world than bad people. So if a 12-year-old can do it, we all can," explained Kwiatkowski.
The Dancing Grannies say they've received thousands of messages on social media and are grateful for the support. They've also gotten donations from states across the country. They ask for your prayers this holiday season.