WAUKESHA, Wisc. — The Waukesha Christmas parade was going on just a block away from the Craft Lounge on Main Street. As chaos erupted on Sunday, many used the bar to seek shelter. But on Thursday, the community used the space to heal.
Finding room to give thanks after Sunday's tragic events might seem unimaginable for those in Waukesha, but despite it all, gratitude filled the air as people came together at the Craft Lounge. Many brought their own Thanksgiving dish to contribute.
Fairuza Jones and her mother carried in a turkey. Her son and husband were downtown at the parade on Sunday.
"My son was downtown when everything happened and my heart goes out to all families, you know, that lost a loved one or had somebody injured," Jones said.
Jones' son is only 6 years old and thankfully was unharmed. Today, she is grateful her loved ones are alive.
The Friendsgiving event was originally a private party that Tony Davis was organizing for his friends.
"I had a lot of friends that don't have family members to spend the holiday with," Davis said. "When everything on Sunday happened, that's when plans changed."
While Davis wasn't at the parade, he has still felt every bit of pain and loss that many in his Waukesha community are experiencing.
"It's tough driving down that street and seeing the areas where you know certain things occurred and happened," he said. "Now more than ever, we really want people to understand, whether you were here at the parade, you witnessed things live or you saw it on the news, we're all grieving together and we need an avenue for us to be able to heal together."
Together, he believes the community can build back.
In just 48 hours, Davis was able to gather over $3,000 of donated gifts to be auctioned off. He says all of the proceeds will be donated to the United Waukesha Fund.
"When you have that kind of outreach in such a short time it's truly a testament to what makes Waukesha strong," he said.
This story was originally published by Jessica Madhukar on Scripps station TMJ4 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.