Waukesha Christmas parade attack, finding 'meaning after trauma'

The entire community of Waukesha is working through the trauma of what happened Nov. 21, when six people were killed and more than 60 hurt in the Christmas parade attack. Experts say the amount of time it will take to heal will vary from person to person. 

A clinical psychologist specializing in long-term trauma says it'll be important for each person to figure out how they can cope through self-care. For one man in Waukesha, it's adding some extra cheer along Main Street.

"We just constantly keep adding to it and try to make it better and better every year," said Garrett Fox, general manager of Taylor’s People’s Park.

Fox is one of the people behind the sparkle at the corner of Clinton and Main, transforming a tree during the holidays.

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"For me, it’s now, OK, this city needs Christmas now more than ever," said Fox. "It needs hope more than ever. This is kind of my way to bring more light to the situation. Hopefully, start to put smiles back on people’s faces." 

For Fox, the lights are a way to find purpose after attending the Christmas parade.

"It’s always hard to move on from something of this nature," said Fox.

Each person impacted in Waukesha is coping a bit differently.

"It started out with a lot of tears, mourning and grieving for the family," said Wanda Boggs. 

"Everybody is going to have a different response, and it really is an individual reaction, I think, depending on a variety of factors," said Emily Mazzulla, Marquette University.

Mazzulla, a clinical psychologist, says what happened in Waukesha is called a collective traumatic event. She says the pandemic has proven communities are resilient. 
By turning to each other and working towards change, a community like Waukesha can come out stronger.

"That can be a long process, but people do want to find meaning after trauma," said Mazzulla.

"I’ve been thinking a lot about prevention because we can look at the aftermath and the results, but I also wonder looking at both sides," said Boggs.

Mazzulla says social support in the form of GoFundMe.com accounts for victims and other fundraisers are another way to cope with a traumatic event. 

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