Milwaukee Dancing Grannies at Mardi Gras via 610 Stompers invite
NEW ORLEANS - The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies will perform at Mardi Gras in New Orleans – their biggest parade yet. The group lost four members in the Waukesha Christmas Parade attack in November 2021.
On Sunday, Feb. 19, New Orleans will know what it means to be "Granny Strong."
At least three grannies who were hurt in Waukesha’s parade attack will be marching in the Big Easy. The 610 Stompers sent the invitation, a group of guys who bonded with the grannies over their shared love of dance.
"This is the Grand Poobah of all parades," said Colleen Minisce, Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
The Big Easy may not be big enough to contain the excitement coming from the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
"I’ve been to New Orleans several times, but I have never, ever been to Mardi Gras," said Donna Kalik, Milwaukee Dancing Grannies. "It’s been kind of a bucket item list for me."
Seventeen Milwaukee Dancing Grannies and eight volunteers headed to New Orleans Wednesday, Feb. 15 to participate in Sunday's "Krewe of Thoth." The 7-mile-long parade is held annually on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday.
"When we heard about the tragedy in Waukesha, that hit us, as well," said Kris Sekinger, 610 Stompers.
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Sekinger said everyone in his group was devastated when three members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies and a volunteer were killed during Waukesha’s 2021 Christmas Parade. The 610 Stompers are a group of self-described "regular guys" who dress like retro gym teachers and dance in parades.
Like the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, the 610 Stompers bring smiles wherever they go.
"I know you guys are coming down with a large amount of the ‘Granny Strong’ bracelets, right?" asked Sekinger.
"We’ve gotten rid of 1,000 in a one-mile parade that we’ve done, so we know we need a lot," said Kalik.
Kalik is driving down with a car-load full, and the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are shipping 2,000 more bracelets to be there by Sunday. Even before they arrive, New Orleans has been eager for a visit from the grannies.
"Based on the responses that we’ve gotten on Facebook, the whole city, they are just welcoming us with open arms," said Minisce. "I got tears this morning just reading the comments."
The 610 Stompers are named after a special section for season ticket holders at the Super Dome. They initially reached out to the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies in 2022, but the grannies said it was just too soon after the attack to go.
The 610 Stompers said this is the first time they’ve ever collaborated with an out-of-state group for their routine. They also raised money to cover some of the grannies' travel costs.