On Friday, June 12, families, residents and visitors to the town of Chappaqua gathered together to show their love and support for Horace Greeley High School’s 2020 graduating class through an early evening car parade.
While the line of cars made its way down Route 117 and King Street and Greeley Avenue, parents and guardians sat behind the wheel as their seniors stuck their heads out the window or through sunroofs to either wave back at all the well wishers or to simply absorb all of the excitement around them.
Caryn Shapiro, parent of Horace Greeley senior Lily Shapiro, said, “the car parade was a silver lining that came out of this pandemic. It was such an amazing event that brought the whole community together to celebrate our seniors who have lost the fun traditions that make the spring of senior year so special.”
According to Horace Greeley PTA Vice Chair Suzanne Lodge, the Chappaqua PTA worked together with the Chappaqua Central School District and in cooperation with the Town of New Castle and its police department to organize the parade in order to replace the traditional celebrations this year’s graduating class is missing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This led to the senior class car parade.
“We had seen other districts do the same thing but we also wanted to follow New York State guidelines, so I spoke to the New Castle Police Department and they were super supportive,” said Lodge.
Lodge managed the event and worked closely with community members, teachers, parents, seniors and the police department to ensure the car parade was well organized and successful.
Seniors and their families slowly began to roll into the Chappaqua train station parking lot around 5 p.m. Students painted the exteriors of the cars to celebrate their accomplishments.
Senior Charlotte Templeton said the car parade was “a great time and fun way to see classmates while celebrating being a senior.”
As more people filed into the parking spots, the noise level and energy built. Once the police officers leading the parade motioned for everyone to head back into their cars, the honking began.
The parade route started at the train station, weaved through town and ended at Horace Greeley High School. Throughout town, members of the community lined the streets with noise-makers, signs and cameras.
Cheers and shouts from community members combined with cars honking created a symphony that brought smiles to seniors’ faces.
When the seniors pulled into the high school, teachers greeted them by honking their horns right back at them and cheering loudly.
Lodge said the PTA advertised the parade in the town superintendent’s note of the week and in the elementary and middle school newsletters this week. The note encouraged community members to come out and cheer for the seniors while wearing masks and following social distancing guidelines.
Senior Lily Shapiro, daughter of Caryn Shapiro, said, “it was so fun to watch the whole town come together for the first time in a while, socially distanced of course, to celebrate the seniors.”
Lisa Kassin, parent of a Horace Greeley junior and college freshman, lined the parade route with her family to cheer on the seniors.
“My family had so much fun watching on Route 117 and cheering for the entire class of 2020. Seeing the smiles on the seniors’ faces while they stood through the sunroofs of their decked out cars was the best part of the parade,” said Kassin.
Before the parade Lodge said, “we are so excited to finally be celebrating these kids, they’ve worked so hard for so long and we were feeling a little disappointed they would not be having their usual accolades but I think Mother Nature agreed that they need a celebration because today is going to be a beautiful day.”
Although “Honk for Seniors” is traditionally held on the first and last days of school at Horace Greeley, this car parade may become a new way of holding the event and celebrating the seniors in the future.
“I think ‘honk for seniors’ may have been more special than ever before, and I think this would be an awesome tradition to have each year,” said Lily Shapiro.