The parking area along State Beach was packed full on Sunday, not with swimsuit-sporting beachgoers, but with Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduates donning their caps and gowns.
Students of the graduating class of 2020 stood alongside the road near their cars and waved as a massive procession of emergency vehicles, family, and friends cruised by to honor them for their hard work, and wish them the best of luck in the future. Members of the faculty and staff of the high school were also there to cheer on their students and show their support.
The parade was held to celebrate the end of the school year for this year’s seniors. A graduation ceremony has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. A ceremony is scheduled for July 26 at the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society property in West Tisbury.
Folks gathered at the Oak Bluffs School at 12:30 pm to prepare for the drive over to Inkwell Beach. The emergency vehicles led the way, with dozens of police cruisers from all over the Island, and fire trucks and ambulances from each Island town, blaring their sirens and honking their horns. The emergency personnel drove down Nantucket Avenue and past Dennis Alley Park (also known as Waban Park), followed by family and close friends of the graduates, who held signs with students’ names on them, and “Congratulations Class of 2020.”
The parade turned onto Seaview Avenue and made its way toward State Beach, where hundreds of cars were parked along the road with purple and white balloons streaming out their windows. Many cars were decorated in Island colors, and Vineyard Pride apparel was plentiful.
All around the Island, lawn signs could be seen with graduates’ names, and purple and white streamers spun around driveway light posts were also a common theme. The parade meandered along State Beach until it reached the Bend in the Road, where emergency vehicles went their separate ways, and the following began to disperse. Although graduates and their families were social distancing, the connection between members of the Island community could not have felt closer.
“Initially, of course it’s upsetting not having the traditional ceremony, but with what’s going on right now you just have to make the most of every moment,” said senior Jared Regan. “I thought the parade was extremely special.” Jeremy Regan, also a graduating student, agreed with his twin brother. “No other class got to experience something like the parade,” he said. “I couldn’t be more thankful to those who set it up and participated.”