Families were out in force for the parade on Sunday, with parents, grandmothers and children dancing, playing or marching, and others cheering them on, all to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season.
Now, five people have died, including two members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, an amateur dance group for grandmothers that has been a fixture in the local parades for nearly four decades. And dozens more people are injured, including at least 10 children in intensive care.
Virginia Sorenson, 79, and LeAnna Owen, 71, were both members of the Dancing Grannies. Dan Thompson, the Waukesha police chief, identified the others killed as Tamara Durand and Jane Kulich, both 52, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.
On Facebook on Monday, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies mourned their losses.
“Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies,” the statement said. “Their eyes gleamed …. joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue … held us together.
At a news conference on Monday, the chief medical officer of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Dr. Michael Gutzeit, said 18 children had been brought to the hospital after the parade, all between the ages of 3 and 16 years. The medical director of the hospital’s intensive care unit, Dr. Michael Meyer, said 10 of them were in the I.C.U. and six were in critical condition.
“The injuries from Sunday night will go well beyond the physical and will take time to heal,” Dr. Gutzeit said.
The victims include three sets of siblings, said Dr. Amy Drendel, the medical director for the hospital’s emergency defense and trauma center. Their ailments range from facial abrasions to broken bones to serious head injuries.
Another hospital, Aurora Medical Center–Summit, said in a statement that it was treating 13 patients, including three in critical condition. Officials at Froedtert Hospital said it had received seven patients.
The Waukesha School District canceled classes on Monday because of the tragedy.
Officials with the Xtreme Dance team, another group that marched, asked for thoughts, prayers and “privacy to process the tragic events.”
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee said a priest was among the injured, along with parishioners and students at a local Catholic school.
A representative of Milwaukee Dancing Grannies did not immediately return phone calls seeking more information, but the statement said the group would post more details as they became available.
“The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are devastated by this terrible tragedy,” the statement said, adding, “Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness.”
Founded in 1984, the group performed choreographed pompom routines and dances at summer and winter parades across southern Wisconsin. A Facebook posting said members need only be “a grandmother or grandmother figure,” available for weekly practice, healthy and “ready to have fun.”
Daniel Victor contributed reporting.
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