by Mike Knaak
What started as an innovation to celebrate a high school tradition during a pandemic may become an annual event.
Sartell High School parents are planning another Senior Parade for the night before the June 5 graduation ceremony, and they are looking for volunteers to help.
One of the organizers, Tina Hemmesch, says during the parade, socially distanced seniors will line up along Pinecone Road while family members drive by. The route probably will start at The Waters Church and head north to the high school.
The parade will be limited to two vehicles per graduate for a parade of more than 600 vehicles.
Volunteers will be needed to mark out spaces for 319 graduates, make and post signs.
To create a unique sign with each student’s name, Hemmesch says the group needs volunteers with “really good penmanship” to write names.
On the night of the parade, volunteers will be needed, so parents can ride in the parade.
After the success of last year’s event, Hemmesch said, “we want to keep the tradition going.”
Support from the community as well as the city of Sartell is needed to stage a successful event. Liberty Bank has again provided financial support.
“If it wasn’t for Liberty we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Hemmesch said.
Mayor Ryan Fitzthum supports the community-led effort.
“The 2020 Senior Parade was a huge positive within our community during the difficulties of the pandemic. Seeing how our community embraced our senior class was amazing,” he said. “The senior parade is just one of the many ways our community evolved throughout 2020. As we overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, I am hopeful we can continue these events and turn them into new traditions for our community. A senior parade serves as an excellent opportunity for our entire community to recognize these students’ achievements.”
Hemmesch, whose son Nolan is graduating, is working with Amy Birkland-Peterson to organize parents and volunteers.
In addition to photos from a drone, photographer Erika Hansen has offered her services to photograph seniors along the parade route.
Volunteers should contact Hemmesch at 320-493-7550.