Dancing Grannies St. Patrick's Day Parade 1st since Waukesha attack

The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are getting ready for a big day Saturday, March 13, their first official performance since the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy that claimed the lives of four of their own.

On Saturday, the 11 current grannies will take part in the Milwaukee St. Patrick's Day Parade through downtown streets -- a show of resiliency. Supporting them will be a whole new group of grannies who have joined or expressed interest since the tragedy.

"We’re just having fun!" said Tammie Radspinner of Racine, prospective granny.

"I love the fact that we’re kind of breaking stereotypes," said Jan Kwiatkowski, co-leader.

In recent months, the grannies have mostly been doing behind-the-scenes work rehearsing, but on Saturday, they'll be back in front of an audience.

"We’re looking forward to Saturday very much," said Kwiatkowski. "It would be untruthful to say there isn’t some anxiety."

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The Waukesha Christmas Parade attack claimed four of the group's own: Ginny Sorenson, Lee Owen and Tamara Carlson, along with volunteer Bill Hospel. Their names are written on the back of shirts made by the grannies.

"There’s still a lot of trauma," said Kwiatkowski.

Grief is a long march.

"It’s just figuring out, step by step, how we’re going to rebuild," said Kwiatkowski.

"Both Lee and Ginny were probably friends of mine for 15 and 20 years," said Holly Habeck, retired granny. "The only thing that has helped me get through this terrible tragedy is the fact that I know they were killed doing something they loved."

One other thing is helping, too: Moving forward together.

"Because nobody heals from anything like this alone," said Kwiatkowski.

"You can’t give in to evil," said Habeck. "You’ve got to keep going."

Since November, the group has gained about 20 prospective members.

"When the tragedy struck in November, I thought, ‘I’ve got to do this,’" said Radspinner. "We’ve got to show people we’re going to keep going."

They’ll carry those who can’t be there with them.

"I think they’d be going, ‘You’re doing exactly what we’d want you to do,’ and they’ll be watching to make sure we do things correctly," said Kwiatkowski. "We’re just going to keep going and trying to fulfill the dreams they had and maybe take those dreams even further."

The prospective grannies will be walking behind the current Dancing Grannies in the parade Saturday – showing how the group is rebuilding.


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