Northeast Wisconsin officials are planning heightened emergency procedures for several parades this week after a man drove an SUV into a crowd during a Christmas parade in Waukesha Sunday night.
Five people are confirmed dead and 40 injured after a driver plowed into parade marchers during the Waukesha Holiday Parade Sunday evening. Children's Wisconsin said it has received 18 patients at its hospital.
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"Our heart-felt sympathies are with those in Waukesha affected by the tragedy that occurred in their community," said Stacey Groll, assistant to the Manitowoc mayor.
Groll plans special events for the city of Manitowoc, including the Lakeshore Holiday Parade. The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in downtown Manitowoc.
Following the incident in Waukesha, Groll said the city feels a responsibility to implement basic procedures in the event of an emergency. She said the Manitowoc Police Department and officers on duty the day of the parade will be on heightened alert. The city is also focusing on building a strong reunification plan in case people are separated from loved ones. Groll said the official reunification area for the parade will be Manitowoc City Hall, 900 Quay St.
"We have marching bands with as many as 240 kids, and as a parent of a high school student myself, I can definitely put myself in those people's position. I can't imagine what that is like to worry about your child and not have a place to meet up with them, or have communication with them," Groll said. "So we're hoping to glean some experience from what Waukesha went through last night, and if having a reunification place is one of the very basic things we can do in the event of any kind of an emergency for this event, that's something that we'll do."
The City of Appleton has alsodecided to keep its holiday parade, which will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday. A silent procession has been added to the very beginning as a sign of respect to the Waukesha community.
"We felt that we needed to pay tribute to all of those impacted and affected by the tragedy in Waukesha," said Corey Otis, Appleton parade committee chair. "We decided that the silent procession is really the most appropriate way at this time to pay respect."
Polly Olson, Appleton Police Department assistant chief, said they have additional resource coming into town from the Wisconsin State Patrol, Outagamie County and other local jurisdictions. She said people will likely notice a large police presence during the parade.
"Know that there's a lot happening behind the scenes to keep them safe. In addition, we do have a lot of visibility and there will be a lot of not only physical police squad cards that you'll see, but a lot of people walking the route," Olson said. "We have a lot of plans in place and I'm confident that people can come down here and enjoy tomorrow."
Olson said there will be hard barricades set up at the parade, which the city has been using for several years.
Two Rivers is set to have its Hometown Christmas Parade at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Chief Brian Kohlmeier, Two Rivers Police Department, said law enforcement will be taking additional security measures to ensure safety for the public. He said there are contingency plans in place and means of communication to the public in the event of an emergency.
Sheboygan's 29th annual holiday parade is set for 5 p.m. Sunday. Ryan Sorenson, Sheboygan mayor, said there will be an increased police presence throughout the parade.
"We want folks to know that this will be a safe parade. Parades are usually very safe events to attend. It's a tragedy what happened in Waukesha, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and the community for how this has impacted them," Sorenson said.
He added the city is evaluating what other safety protocols they will implement to have a safe and successful Christmas parade.