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By Leigh Ann Rutledge
As I drove around Public Square at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, May 23, I was amazed at the vast number of people gathered for the Carrollton High School Senior Class Parade.
Chairs were sitting on the sidewalk in front of residences on S. Lisbon St., while others sat on their porches. I parked in the JOMAC parking lot on Scio Rd. diagonally across from Industrial Park Dr. A truck parked beside me and several people were sitting in lawn chairs and on tailgates of pick-up trucks parked at Fusion Ceramics and Encino Energy’s office.
The sun was shining; the temperature perfect. The atmosphere was light-hearted. You could see people gathering in the top parking lot in front of the high school.
The parade was led by Carrollton Police Chief Bob Ellington and members of the Carrollton Village Fire Department. Sirens and horns could be heard long before the lead vehicles could be seen. Every time the siren went off and the air horn on the fire truck blew, I got goosebumps knowing those were directed at someone who took time from their day to join the festivities.
Traffic was stopped at the JOMAC parking lot to allow parents, grandparents and friends to take pictures and video of the parade without traffic interfering.
Members of the CHS Class of 2020 decorated their vehicles and were allowed to ride in the beds of pick-ups. Graduates arrived sitting on vehicle roofs thru the sunroof, sitting in the driver’s and/or passenger seat and surrounded by family members. Balloons pointed toward the sky, tied to trucks and cars.
By allowing each graduate to decorate his or her vehicle, we were allowed to see a bit of their personality, including those who are shy. Many vehicles told where the graduate was heading for their next step in life, such as the scarlet and grey sign with the large letters “THE” visible from the railroad tracks. Grace Barnhart is heading to The Ohio State University this fall; Malina Moore to the University of Akron for nursing and Jazmin Rutledge to Paris Island and the U.S. Marine Corps. Lacey Jehle sat in the back of a Mustang convertible with her Buckeye Career Center logo on the door.
Haili Baker rode in a 1931 Chevy fire engine her grandfather, Ron Dennis, spent over three years restoring. Baker wanted to be the first person to ride in the truck and planned to have her grandfather chauffur her to prom in the engine. Due to COVID-19, prom was cancelled. The senior parade gave her the chance to fulfill her wish.
Along with the antique fire engine, cars and trucks from all decades and all makes were utilized. A red convertible 1970 Pontiac Bonneville driven by Brent Baker, with simple ribbon decoration, transported his daughter, Susanna Baker. The car belongs to her grandparents, Jim and Darlene Cramblett of New Harrisburg, who used it as their transportation years ago, but now just get it out in the summer. Ashlee Maple rode in a lifted red 1970s Ford truck; Kylee McClintock was in her dad’s 60s Chevy Super Sport he drives to work; and Vinnie Reed’s “White Lightning” 1985 Chevy Scottsdale short bed truck carried the American Flag. Reminiscent of cruising 80s style, Zack Stack drove a late 80s white Cutlass with a red stripe he and his family built, including a hood scoop and back air shocks.
Brooke Fritz rode in the bed of the truck with her brothers and a dinosaur; Michael Stout drove his four-wheeler; Erin Green rode her Harley Davidson; Carson Shellenbarger drove a 1066 International tractor and Clay Rector showed his fun side, only washing the windows after mudding in his 4×4.
Macey Stevens left her BFF at home, but had a sign on the side of her dad’s Peterbilt stating “Home of Buckwheat.” Nate Blake proudly announced his accomplishment of being a 145 lb. wrestling state qualifier and Greg Hilliard simply leaned back, relaxed in a lawn chair in the bed of the truck.
According to school officials around 100 students participated and they may consider turning it into an annual event.
Reports from those watching along Canton Rd. noted the old car wash lot and Sherwood Plaza had families gathered to watch their daughter/son in the precession, as well as along the route to downtown.
COVID-19 has changed our lives in ways we may not yet realize. Students graduating from high school in 2020 did not have the traditional graduation award assemblies and ceremony, but they have also grown up in a digital world.
In looking at the glass half-full, the Class of 2020 can say they were the first graduating class to have senior banners on display downtown, a senior parade and a virtual graduation ceremony. New traditions aren’t always a bad thing.