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Appleton Christmas Parade to march on, silent procession will be added

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 4:46 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2021 at 6:30 PM CST
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Sunday afternoon’s incident in Waukesha is now on the minds of area parade organizers, who say the 50th annual Appleton Christmas Parade will still march down College Avenue Tuesday night.

The event is set to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and Action 2 News has learned extra precautions are in place for the safety of everyone there.

While a festive feeling is in downtown Appleton in anticipation of the parade, there’s also a small sense of sadness and concern after what happened just two hours to the south of the city Sunday.

While it will be hard for anyone to forget the incident in Waukesha that has killed at least five people and injured dozens more, the 2021 Appleton Christmas parade will still be a celebration of the season, and will return for its 50th year after being canceled last year due to the pandemic.

“It was careful consideration to hold this event in our community,” said Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford. “And, we stand firmly with our friends in Waukesha as they mourn the tragedy in their community. And we are preparing actively to make sure we have a safe and enjoyable event in our community.”

That safety includes additional barricades being set up by law enforcement along the parade route. Appleton Police tell Action 2 News it routinely re-evaluates its plans for events like this, and the department is confident it is prepared for Tuesday night.

“There will be a lot of not only physical police squad cars that you’ll see out there, but a lot of people walking the route and a lot of visibility out there,” said Appleton Assistant Police Chief Polly Olson.

About 75 different groups, organizations, businesses, and volunteers are committed to participate in the parade.

A letter sent to families in the Appleton Area School District says if a family isn’t comfortable with a student participating as a member of a marching band, dance team or community group, the district understands. They say if that is the case, you need to contact the advisor of the group to let them know your student won’t be participating.

Monday afternoon, the parade committee announced a silent procession will be added to the beginning of the parade as a tribute to the victims in Waukesha. According to the committee, the procession will include City staff and elected officials dedicated to the victims and families of the Waukesha community. The following statement was issued Monday:

The City of Appleton stands with our neighbors in Waukesha in the wake of yesterday’s tragic incident at their annual Christmas parade. Our hearts are heavy even as we prepare to hold our own Christmas parade and to gather in the same spirit of community, celebration, and peace that brought the Waukesha community together on Sunday. The City of Appleton has reached out to the City of Waukesha directly to offer our support and heartfelt condolences as they mourn. We also extend our condolences to members of our own community affected directly and indirectly by yesterday’s events.

After careful consideration, the Appleton Parade Committee and the City of Appleton have decided to proceed with our 50th Downtown Appleton Christmas Parade. Participants and attendees, as in years past, will continue to see public safety personnel from the Appleton Police Department present on the route. The Parade Committee and the Police Department have worked collaboratively for years to provide safe gatherings for our community, and the Appleton Christmas Parade on November 23 will be no exception.

The Parade Committee will feature a silent procession, which will occur immediately before the start of Appleton’s Christmas Parade, dedicated to the Waukesha community. The Committee asks that parade attendees join in a moment of silence for the victims and families as the procession passes by.

Appleton Christmas Parade Committee and City of Appleton

For anyone attending the Appleton parade, officials say you’re able to place chairs and blankets along the parade route any time after 12 p.m. Tuesday, but only if you stay with them.

“The procession will precede the event, and as people feel more comfortable with being back outside for a parade - first one in two years - that the smiles will come out and the cheering and we’ll welcome the holiday season, and again, keeping Waukesha in our hearts,” said Corey Otis, the Chair of the Appleton Parade Committee.

Appleton isn’t the only local community with a holiday parade this week - the City of Manitowoc says it will host its annual event under heightened security as well.

Fond du Lac Police Chief Aaron Goldstein tells Action 2 News he will work alongside the city’s fire chief to ensure additional safety measures are taken at its city parade on December 4.

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