Every parade has an act that draws the eye, that brings a quick smile and a delighted laugh.
An act like the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, who with their pom-poms, sense of humor and moxie have entertained crowds across the area for decades.
Founded in 1984, they usually performed 25 times a year, although they had to take a break in the earlier months of the pandemic.
“The Grannies are kind of a really tight unit,” said Beth Krohn, a retired member of the group. “We used to call it a sisterhood.”
On Sunday, the women were doing what they loved best: performing, providing entertainment and bringing joy to those gathered at the Waukesha Christmas Parade.
But in an instant, when a red SUV roared down the parade route, several of the Dancing Grannies were tragically run down, with four fatalities.
On Monday, police released the names of those killed, including Virginia Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, and Tamara Durand, 52, who were all part of the Dancing Grannies, and Wilhelm Hospel, 81, who helped the group.
A fifth person also died. Police identified her as Jane Kulich, 52. Kulich worked at Citizens Bank, which said in a statement that “one of our team members who was walking with the parade float was struck and passed away as a result of her injuries.”
“Our condolences go out to her family and friends for this inconceivable loss,” the bank said in its statement. “Please lift our team and the entire community as we all grieve.”
It’s hard to imagine, so close to Thanksgiving, the unparalleled grief visited on the families and friends of those who died. Each used their time and talent to help others in their own way.
Virginia Sorenson: Heart of the group
If the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies had a beating heart, it was Sorenson. Everyone called her Ginny.
She had a bad back and a bad hip but loved to dance and was an instructor and choreographer who helped newcomers and veterans with the group’s routines.
“What did she like about it? Everything,” said her husband of 56 years, David Sorenson. “She liked the instructing. She liked the dancing and the camaraderie of the women. She liked to perform.”
More Coverage: What we know, and don’t know, about the car that plowed through a crowd at the Waukesha Christmas Parade