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New date for Waukesha Christmas parade promises increased safety

2021 holiday parade tragedy prompted the date change

Police canvass the streets in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after a vehicle plowed into a Christmas parade hitting more than 20 people Sunday.
Police canvass the streets in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after a vehicle plowed into a Christmas parade hitting more than 20 people Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Jeffrey Phelps/AP Photo

For the first time in nearly 60 years, the Waukesha Christmas parade will take place after Thanksgiving.

Following the tragic events of the 2021 Waukesha Christmas parade, officials have decided to move the event to the week after the holiday so more police and fire department resources are available. Waukesha now plans to hold its Christmas parade on Dec. 4 at 4 p.m.

It’s the most recent move by leaders to increase safety at the parade after Darrell Brooks Jr. allegedly drove his vehicle into a crowd of people during the parade last year, killing six and injuring more than 60 people.

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“By adjusting the Christmas parade date, more resources are available for staffing in cases of unplanned emergencies which includes police and fire department resources, hospital staff and many others,” said a press release from the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce.

The city also recently announced one parade route will now be used for all future events. Rob Hoverman, president of Waukesha’s Chamber of Commerce, said he views the change in date and parade route as a fresh start for the city and its residents.

“There will be a lot of attention obviously, potentially nationally, which I think is a good thing for the city, and I’m sure everyone will put their best foot forward and be happy to come celebrate,” Hoverman said about the upcoming parade. “And I think in some ways, moving it past Thanksgiving will engage more people in the Christmas spirit with the Christmas parade.”

Earlier this year, the city announced new safety measures which will be implemented for other downtown events and parades, including the Fourth of July parade.

New security perimeters are now being used for all parades and events. Police now use mobile vehicle barriers — which essentially block vehicles — to outline the perimeter of parades.

The city is using federal funds to invest in “technology, training, and equipment to provide enhanced safety for special events while allowing events such as the parade to continue,” according to a news release.

“We want the public to feel safe coming to City of Waukesha events,” Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson stated. “While we can never prevent every type of criminal activity, we are doing our best to make sure the events are as safe as possible.”

A jury trial for Brooks, who faces six intentional homicide charges, is expected to begin in December, according to online court records.