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Milwaukee Dancing Grannies have long brought joy to parades. Now they grieve after Wisconsin incident


By Theresa Waldrop, CNN

The tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Sunday brought the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies into a sad spotlight.

Members of the group were among the five people killed when an SUV driver slammed into a Christmas parade, according to its Facebook page.

The Grannies who died “were extremely passionate,” the post said. “Their eyes gleamed… of being a Grannie. They were the glue….held us together.”

Who are the Grannies and what do they do?

For one, they probably aren’t your grandma’s grandmas.

The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies have been bringing joy to Wisconsin parade crowds from Memorial Day to Christmas, sashaying with their pompoms in costumes that fit the occasion, for decades.

“They have won many trophies, but it’s the enthusiasm and smiles from children and adults of all ages that warm the hearts of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies,” the group’s website says.

The only requirement to be a member is to be a grandmother, the group says.

The Dancing Grannies was formed in 1984 from what was originally a jazzercise group, one of the members told CNN affiliate WDJT earlier this year.

The group practices once a week, and it’s clear that it brings them almost as much joy as they bring to parade crowds.

“Who doesn’t like to hear wolf whistles at this age?,” one member told WDJT.

When the group passes the veterans stand, they do kicks and “some kind of sexy hip thing,” another said.

The time together builds camaraderie and even family.

They go out to dinners together and carpool to a parade in Minnesota once a year, a member told WDJT. “It’s a good time,” she said.

“We all truly love each other, I think,” one said. “We are like sisters,” she said in the WDJT interview that included a clip of the group dancing to “We are family,” by Sister Sledge.

And they are dedicated. They practice at home to make sure they have their routine down, one member told WDJT.

It’s all “wonderful aerobic exercise,” a member said in a 2016 interview with CNN affiliate WTMJ.

“The crowds love us, it’s amazing,” one member told WTMJ. “And what’s amazing is what that does to us. That adrenaline starts going, and you just want to do your very, very best.”

The group was devastated by Sunday’s tragedy, the group said in Facebook.

“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.”

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