Four of the five people killed in the Waukesha Christmas parade attack on Sunday were affiliated with a dancing group of older women called the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
Virginia “Ginny” Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, and Tamara Durand, 52, were members of the Dancing Grannies, known for carrying pompoms and entertaining crowds with synchronized routines, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Victim Wilhelm Hospel, 81, was helping the group because his wife Lola is a member, his brother told The Post.
A fifth victim, Jane Kulich, 52, was a Citizens Bank employee who was killed walking along with the company’s parade float, according to reports and a bank statement.
Durand’s final Facebook post made hours before an SUV plowed into the crowd at the Waukesha, killing the five and injuring dozens more, showed her smiling, holding her pompoms and dressed in a winter coat and hat.
“HERE WE GO!” she wrote in the post, alongside Santa Claus emojis. “First Milwaukee Dancing Grannies parade! So excited!” She was a former hospice chaplain and a chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Theodore Hospel, 84, told The Post he was on a golf course in Florida when he heard his little brother Wilhelm was one of the victims. Wilhelm, the youngest of five brothers, died from internal bleeding and injuries to his pelvis, his brother said.
“I was talking to him this summer, and he said, ‘Who do you think is going to be the first one to go,’ you know,” Theodore said. “And lo and behold, the youngest one goes first.”
Theodore said he visited Wilhelm and Lola in Wisconsin often, and found his brother “always repairing things” in a rental property he owned despite being retired.
“His job was never done, but he was so healthy,” Theodore said. “He was not on any major medication. He was a strong person and even would help me out a lot of times because he was so strong. I cannot believe it. It’s so tragic.”
Sorenson, a former registered nurse with three children and six grandchildren, helped with choreography and was a mentor to newer Dancing Grannies despite a bad back and hip, the Journal Sentinel said.
“She liked the instructing,” her husband David told the newspaper. “She liked the dancing and the camaraderie of the women. She liked to perform.”
She had planned to take part in the parade in a van, but at the last minute helped carry the banner at the rear of the group during the procession, her grieving husband said.
The Dancing Grannies said it was “devastated” by the tragedy in a Facebook post made Monday.
“Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness,” the post said. “While performing the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds cheers and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts.
“Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies,” the group said in the statement. “Their eyes gleamed …. Joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue …. held us together.’
Citizens Bank memorialized Kulich in a statement released Monday, though the company didn’t identify her by name.
“One of our team members who was walking with our parade float was struck and passed away as a result of her injuries,” the statement said. “Our condolences go out to her family and friends for this inconceivable loss. Please lift up our team and the entire community as we all grieve.”
Darrell Brooks, 39, was arrested and charged with five counts of intentional homicide in the attack, which injured 48 people.