Wranglers at the 2019 Exchange Club Fourth of July Parade

Lake Highlands has hosted parades down Church Road for decades, but we’ve never seen a topsy-turvy procession like the one senior moms have planned for the Class of 2020. The celebration is designed to bring the neighborhood together and herald the accomplishments of Wildcat graduates.

On May 17 at 7 p.m., seniors will line Church Road in front of the high school wearing their red caps and gowns. Supporters will gather in cars on Ravensway in front of Northlake Elementary and drive slowly toward White Rock Trail, honking their horns and displaying messages of support.

“I’ve always loved the Fourth of July parade – Lake Highlands is such a small town in a big city,” said Renee Barry Barfoot, who graduated from LHHS and is on the committee of senior moms who had been working all year to plan the traditional post-graduation all night party and other senior events. “We talked about having the kids drive down Church Road, but not all the kids have cars. This seemed like a great way to involve the community.”

The parade is not officially sponsored by RISD, but many of the students’ favorite teachers and administrators are expected to attend. There’ll be music by a DJ and manpower by moms from the LHHS junior class.

The biggest challenge for organizers, Barfoot said, is getting the word out to all the seniors and their families.

“We really want to include all the kids in the class,” she stressed. “Some may be the first from their family to graduate from high school. It would be really sad if they missed getting to celebrate.”

Students in the Class of 2020 have had a wild ride. Born within months of the September 11 disaster, their young lives thus far have been bookended by the coronavirus pandemic. They were robbed of year-end banquets, award ceremonies, photo flashbacks, graduation speeches, prom-posals and a host of other milestones.

“We just want the kids to be seen and celebrated,” Barfoot said. “We are such a tight-knit community in Lake Highlands. I would be heartbroken if they missed out on their big moment. It’s the empathy in this community that is so special. We want them to feel closure and know how proud we are for all they’ve accomplished. The whole community believes in them.”

If you’d like to attend the parade, you’re invited to decorate your vehicle, paint signs and bring noisemakers for the occasion. Assembly begins at 6:30 p.m. and the procession pulls away from Ravensway westward down Church Road at 7 p.m. sharp. Graduates should line up between Fieldcrest and White Rock Trail.

Football players at the 2019 Exchange Club Fourth of July Parade