LEXINGTON — The Lexington alumni parade which is traditionally held in June is taking on a new format this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The parade this year is taking on the form of a cruise, the “Welcome Back Orange and Black Cruise,” which is being sponsored by the Lexington Area Chamber of Commerce and the Orthman Community YMCA.
Executive Director Sarah Neben said the chamber knew they couldn’t hold the parade this year, even with the relaxed guidelines which came out in June. Parades are still prohibited even in the most recent measures.
Given the restrictions, the chamber wondered how they could still hold some type of event during alumni weekend, Neben said.
The decision was made to take a page out of the Orthman Community YMCA’s book and host a community cruise. The YMCA has been hosting cruises on Sundays since late March as a way to get people out and about safely during this time of social distancing.
The cruise will take place on Saturday, June 20 at 10 a.m., participants are asked to line up in the YMCA east parking lot.
The entire community is invited to participate and decorate their vehicles in orange and black, Lexington High School alumni are encouraged to add the year they graduated to their vehicle.
“You don’t have to be a Lexington graduate to participate,” Neben said, “All are welcomed to join.”
The cruise will be led by Orthman Community YMCA CEO/Branch Director Riley Gruntorad. The event will set off promptly at 10 a.m. and the route will take approximately one hour.
Participants are asked to throw no candy, keep to their vehicles and practice social distancing while they are taking part in the cruise. No floats will be allowed during the cruise, in an effort to keep people as separate as possible. The community is invited to watch from their lawns and homes along the parade route.
“We want to keep the community safe, but celebrate the alumni,” Neben said.
Neben said the chamber extends a special thanks to the YMCA for helping to lead and set the route for the event. She said without their help, no event may have taken place this year.
“Right now this is the only way to continue the event, given the health restrictions,” Neben said, “So many events have been canceled, we are happy we are able to host this event.”
The chamber plans on hosting a traditional alumni parade in June 2021.