Waukesha parade attack: Thanksgiving somber as community heals

As the community continues to grieve the tragic events of Sunday's Christmas parade, it was a somber Thanksgiving for Waukesha on Thursday.

All day long, people stopped by Waukesha's Veterans Park to pay their respects to the victims. Many felt especially thankful for their loved ones this Thanksgiving.

While it is an emotional and difficult time, it is community support that carried people through the day.

"This has been on my mind constantly, that horrible things like this happen," resident Arlene Davis said.

Prayers, tears and an outpouring of support continue to surround Veterans Park where a memorial continues to grow.

"I just feel sad today," said resident Kelly Quindt.

Memorial for parade attack victims at Waukesha's Veterans Park

As Wisconsinites headed to and from their holiday plans, many spent part of their Thanksgiving at the memorial – hugging their loved ones extra tight.

"That’s what’s bothering me is that these families have to celebrate Thanksgiving without their loved ones," Davis said.

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"I’m grateful for my family, I’m grateful just for the community and all the love everybody brought," said Quindt.

Six people died, including a child, and more than 60 people were injured when a suspect drove an SUV through the parade. Among those injured was 11-year-old Jessalyn Torres. A member of the Xtreme Dance Team, she is also part of Carroll University's Big Brothers Big Sisters program – and is currently in critical condition.

"We always hope that we can make an impact on our ‘little,’ but I think it’s our ‘little’ that also kind of impacts us," said Kerry Kiel, Torres' "big."

Kerry Kiel and Jessalyn Torres

The youth-mentoring organization is raising funds for all who were impacted.

"They can buy a t-shirt or a long sleeve, and all funds that go to it will be donated, said Cameron Theisen, Big Brothers Big Sisters vice president. "Fifty percent will go to our ‘littles’ GoFundMe, and then the other half will go to the Waukesha community fund."

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"I’m even more thankful for my family and friends today and just thankful for all the community support," Kiel said.

Bell Ambulance also encouraged the community to take a moment at 4:39 p.m. Thursday to remember the victims. The city is planning another moment of silence for Sunday.

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