MILWAUKEE, Wis. (NBC 26) — The Pulaski community is still dealing with the aftermath of a bonfire explosion that injured dozens of people.
"It was like midnight and my best friend called me," Pulaski High School junior Peighton Brandenburg said. "He's just like, 'Peighton, I need your help.' It was just a scary moment."
Brandenburg says it could've happened to her.
"It could've been anyone and I know a lot of people that went there and I was invited," she said. "And I kind of canceled on them last minute."
The bonfire explosion in October that injured students in Shawano County was connected to a celebration of Pulaski's homecoming.
"I'm doing pretty okay, but some people will be traumatized for a very long time," Brandenburg said.
On Thursday morning, hundreds of Pulaski community members and students rallied together on a cheerful occasion.
GOAL: Pulaski gets on the board at the state soccer semifinal in Milwaukee. Whitefish Bay leads 2-1, 25 minutes into the match. pic.twitter.com/qmvmqPOsSU— Ben Bokun (@ben_bokun) November 3, 2022
"I think this is actually one of the first bigger community events that we've had that hasn't been all about the fire that happened," Brandenburg said.
Pulaski boys soccer faced Whitefish Bay in the Division II state semifinal in Milwaukee. The Raiders lost, but Pulaski faithful say the ride created a positive experience for the community.
"This is just something that's happy and exciting that everyone can get their mind off of what happened," Brandenburg said.
"We were happy to… it be something right time to maybe turn to something positive," Head Coach Jeff Schneider said.
Students got an excused absence to attend. Schneider is a Pulaski resident himself.
"Hopefully, this was able to put a smile on some people's face for a small moment in time, and then they can get back to that process of healing," he said.
It's a process that hasn't been easy.
"I hope eventually the school district won't forget about it, but they'll be able to cope a lot easier than they have been the last couple weeks and we'll be able to move on as a school and community," Brandenburg said.