The St. James Parks Department is teaming up with school supporters to honor graduating seniors on May 2. Seniors will be spaced throughout Nelson Hart Park and residents will drive through and congratulate them while social distancing.
Parks Director John Cutsinger said the idea developed after the school began leaving the sports complex lights on at night in support of seniors who are not able to participate in spring activities or school events due to cancellation of remainder of the school year.
“We are going to step it up a notch and are getting any of the seniors who can to come up and line along Nelson Hart Park,” he explained. “We are trying to get a parade of people, including the police, ambulance, and fire departments, to drive by the seniors and congratulate them.”
He added he is planning to have emergency responders set up at the end of the route with their lights on.
“We will put together little goodie bags to give each senior. I have talked to (School Resource Officer) Tony Gray and he is designing T-shirts to honor our seniors,” Cutsinger said.
Sponsors are going to pay the cost of the shirts for each of the 130 seniors, whether they participate in the event or not.
“We are putting together sponsors. All three banks have contributed. We will also make the T-shirts available to parents,” he said.
Anyone interested in contributing to the T-shirt purchase or goodie bags can message the Parks Facebook page to get involved.
Plans are to turn the lights on at Nelson Hart Park and line seniors up throughout the park beginning at 7:30 p.m. The parade will begin shortly after line up is completed and residents will drive through the park, entering at the east gate near the recreation center. Depending on how many students participate, the parade will travel through the park, allowing for people to honk, congratulate seniors, and show their support for not being able to complete the final portion of their student lives.
“I’ve talked to (emergency responders). They will line up on either side at the end of the parade and will have their lights going,” Cutsinger said.
Cutsinger is working with an Adopt a 2020 STJ Senior group of local supporters, who have formed a Facebook group, to get the word out.
“(Students) can RSVP through the Adopt a 2020 Senior page or the Parks page. We are going to do 130 T-shirts, regardless,” he said, adding that RSVPs would give the department an idea of how many plan to attend and will help with coordinating the event. Any student who does not attend will still receive a T-shirt and goodie bag.
He invited the public to come and show support for local students who have been impacdted by the COVID-19 pandemic. More information will be shared on the St. James Parks and Recreation Facebook page and the Adopt a 2020 STJ Senior page as it becomes available.