Milwaukee Dancing Grannies return to another parade after losing four members

The group lost Virginia Sorenson, Leanna Owen, Tamara Durand, and volunteer Wilhelm Hospel two weeks ago in the Waukesha Christmas Parade
Milwaukee Dancing Grannies stepped out for the first time together since the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy.

WAUKESHA, Wis. — It was a walk to remember for the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies as they stepped out for the first time together since the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy.

The group lost Virginia Sorenson, 79, Leanna Owen, 71, and Tamara Durand, 52, and volunteer Wilhelm Hospel, 81 two weeks ago in the Waukesha Christmas Parade.

While some Christmas parades like Whitefish Bay and Menomonee Falls were canceled following the Waukesha attack, Franklin still kept their event. It was the city’s first of its kind.

Linked together arm and arm, the Dancing Grannies held their sign tightly in solidarity while walking through the Franklin Christmas Parade.

The group wore blue matching bedazzled sweatshirts to honor their beloved friends and fellow dancers that were killed in the Waukesha parade just two weeks ago. In sparkling letters, the back of each sweatshirt read each nickname: Ginny, Lee, Tamara, and Bill.

“I think they would be pretty proud of us to be doing this, Ginny and Lee were the glue that kept us together…so yeah we’re trying to honor them and keep the grannies going for the future,” said Jean Knutson, a granny in the group.

Some members of the group are still recovering from injuries. Despite the trauma they went through, these ladies say it’s actually healing to walk in the parade together again.

“Grateful, a mixed bag of emotions but yeah very much appreciative of everybody that came out,” said Knutson.

Knutson’s daughter and granddaughter flew in from Kentucky to show their support. They weren’t sure if it would be a good idea when Jean told them she was going to walk in another parade after all that she had experienced during Waukesha.

“Very nervous because of what happened couple weeks,” said Jean’s daughter, Erin Burkhard.

The city of Franklin had increased security for it’s first Christmas Parade. Several snowplows were parked to block any intersection to the parade route, the mayor said it was used to add an extra layer of protection.

“I think that strength just means that they just feel like walking in honor is exactly what those people would want them to do is not stop and just continue doing what they love,” said parade attendee, Kim Leskovar.