The streets of Manchester and Essex were green and white Friday evening as Manchester Essex Regional High School's graduating seniors paraded the streets in their cars. 

More than 80 decorated cars traversed parade route that included stops in both towns. 

The event was coordinated by Manchester Essex Regional High School Principal Patricia Puglisi, Class of 2020 officers and advisers. Many senior class events where canceled as the coronavirus pandemic shut down schools for the last quarter of the school year.

"Everyone did a really great job," Puglisi said. "This class has been amazing to work with." 

Starting at 4 p.m., students began lining up their cars in the high school parking lot . Graduate Breno Santos was accompanied in his car by his parents, grandmother and cousins. A sign of the side of his car detailed information on how to donate to Black Lives Matter.

"I'm happy we get something," Santos said of the parade. "It's nice to be out."

His mother, Carla Ribeiro-Santos, said she was "excited to celebrate" her son's graduation despite the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Another senior, Sara Potter, said in a way, the celebration was better than a traditional graduation.

"We get to play our own music and we have the car AC," she laughed. 

Friends Alden Irose, Griffin Ancevic and Andy Paragos traveled together in one Jeep.

"It's interesting times for sure," said Irose, "but at least we can all be together for this party."

Ancevic said he felt these trying times have "brought us all together" in ways like never before.

"It's nice to see how people are recognizing us, " Paragos followed up. "This is something we're going to remember for the rest of our lives."

At 4:30 p.m., the parade  headed for downtown Manchester. Onlookers lined the streets cheering on members of the Class of 2020 as they drove by. Amy Lage, owner of Style Snoop By The Sea on Central Street, was watching from the front of her shop.

"I have two high school seniors that work for me," she said. "I just want to show them my support." 

Dan LaForge was able to see his daughter, Victoria, drive by while standing outside the Manchester Public Library. He said Victoria has enrolled at Salem State to study marketing and graphic design.

"She's very happy and excited," he said. "It's tough times we're living in, but you always got to find time to celebrate.

Down by the Essex Causeway, Mary Hickey was waiting for the parade to cross over town lines so she and her family could cheer on her daughter, Maxine. This is the second graduation Mary Hickey missed this year; her son had recently finished college down in Florida.

"It's not ideal, but it is what it is," she lamented. "We're making the best of it, and this (parade) is kind of a fun idea." 

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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