Sanford exploring 1st Street parade for Crooms Academy and Seminole High graduates

Seniors from Crooms and Seminole high schools may participate in more than just a video ceremony to celebrate their graduation.

City officials are exploring the possibility of allowing graduating seniors to drive down 1st Street while their friends and family line the street cheering them on at appropriate social-distancing intervals.

No details have been finalized, and the idea remains just that – an idea – for the moment.

However, Mayor Jeff Triplett, Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Chairman Charles Davis, and Deputy City Manager Tom George are beginning internal discussions with police and city attorneys to figure out how a parade-style ceremony might work.

“This idea is literally 3 hours old,” said Triplett. “There is a ton of logistics to work out, but we’d like to do a parade of some sort.”

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Davis began discussing the idea with Triplett and George following Wednesday’s CRA meeting. Board member Theo Hollerbach briefly mentioned holding a drive-through art exhibit as a possible event to partner with a marketing campaign the CRA approved.

The art event could be further explored at the June CRA meeting Davis said, and it sparked the idea of a parade for seniors.

“I feel bad for those graduating seniors,” Davis said. “I think it would be a really unique experience if the seniors could decorate their cars and drive down 1st Street.”

Davis said he foresees the parade happening on a slower weekday in June, like a Monday or Tuesday. Depending on state guidelines for restaurant occupancy at the time of the event, Davis thinks downtown restaurants might be able to use the event to boost sales.

“The state makes the call on restaurants, but it would be nice if we could do this when the businesses are allowed to be at full or almost full capacity,” Davis said.

Whether a parade for graduates can actually happen will be up to the Sanford Police Department and city attorneys. That may be a hurdle that’s too tough to clear. In the past, City Attorney Lonnie Groot hasn’t looked favorably on out-of-the-box ideas.

Street closures and traffic coordination could tax police resources, Triplett noted. Plus, figuring out how to keep family members from stacking up in Magnolia Square like happens during the Christmas parade would be an issue, too.

Triplett said that problem might be alleviated if families were assigned designated areas on both sides of 1st Street from Oak to Mellonville Avenues.

“Right now, we have a lot of questions and not many answers,” Triplett said. “We may be able to pull this off, but we’ve got a lot of work to do to figure it out.”

Regardless of what happens with a parade, Triplett said plans are in the works to honor seniors in Magnolia Square. The Greater Sanford Chamber of Commerce, the Historic Sanford Welcome Center and My Sanford Magazine will be hanging banners throughout the square with the names of all Crooms and Seminole 2020 graduates.

“That’s definitely happening,” Triplett said.

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