Neighborhoods hold parade for graduates

June 1, 2020 Cranberry Living


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Mars Area seniors Michael Riggio, right, and Jacob Mann wave the flags of their future military branches during Saturday's parade of seniors through the Adams Ridge neighborhood in Adams Township. Below, Mars Area High School senior Michael Crowley waves during the parade. photography by Seb Foltz/Butler Eagle

ADAMS TWP — A group of mothers was determined the high school seniors in their neighborhoods would get a proper send-off even during the quarantine.

They organized a senior parade through the community Saturday afternoon to celebrate the graduates from Adams Ridge and The Pointe.

With fire trucks and a police escort, the seniors in individual vehicles paraded through their neighborhoods handing out candy and cheered on by onlookers sitting and standing in their yards.

“With all the proms, graduations, academic banquets and spring sports they were looking forward to being canceled, a few of us parents decided to do a parade because of so many seniors in the neighborhood,” said Sharon Bird, the mother of Mars High School senior Connor Bird.

“There's a committee of eight of us. One of the ladies (Shaney Mitchell) was taking the lead. I'm the second in command,” she said.

The other organizers included Janice Williams, Amy Huff, Carol Knox, Amy Riggio, Jen Skirtich and Lori Allison.

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The group asked parade participants to register on the community website, www.adamsridge.net/senior-2020parade.html.

The tally reached 39 seniors from five schools — Mars, Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, PA Cyber Charter, Central Catholic and North Catholic — as well as one home-schooled graduate and a college graduate from Penn State.

Each graduate was asked to ride in a separate car decorated with posters or banners showing their name and school spirit.

Residents were encouraged to cheer on the graduates with decorated mailboxes, signs and chalked sidewalks and driveways as the seniors drove through the neighborhoods.

The parading graduates even had a personalized soundtrack courtesy of Mars High School senior Michael Crowley and his low-power radio station, 88.7 WMTC FM.

Crowley, the son of Thomas and Stephanie Crowley, said of his station, “It's a little thing here in Adams Ridge. It barely covers Adams Ridge.”

He has run the radio station for several years, automating it to play music from the '50s, '60s and '70s 24 hours a day.

Forms were sent out asking for student requests, and Crowley prerecorded the show. Students could tune their car radios to 88.7 FM during the parade to listen.

He said the most requested song was “Dancing Queen” by ABBA.

“I think it's because our school musical was supposed to be 'Mamma Mia' that is an ABBA song,” Crowley said.

The Mars High School musical was canceled by the quarantine caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crowley said he plans to attend John Carroll University in Cleveland to study communications “and hopefully go into radio.”

“I feel with everything going on, life is what you make of it. You make the best of it. I look on the past three and half years rather than the last half-year,” he said.

Parade participants also received a commemorative T-shirt, Bird said, produced by Amy Kolmer, the owner of Embroidery & Much More in Cranberry Township.

Mars High School seniors were given a shirt reading “Mars Area Class of 2020 Senior Skip Day Champions #quarantine,” while the other graduates received a more generic version, Bird said.

“We wanted to find a way to celebrate these graduates and make them feel special since we have so many in the neighborhood,” Bird said.

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Eric Freehling

Eric Freehling

Eric was born in Butler and grew up in Winfield Township. He graduated from Knoch High School and later Indiana University of Pa. with a degree in Journalism. After working as a reporter and editor with the Kittanning Leader-Times, he moved to Bloomington, Illinois, where he worked at The Pantagraph newspaper as a copy editor, page designer, reporter and business editor. Freehling later worked at the Houston Chronicle as senior copy editor and the Chicago Tribune as a copy editor on the business desk. He moved back to Pennsylvania in 2010 and joined the Butler Eagle as Community Editor in January 2011.