FCHS graduates loved the parade

By Ruthann Carr

It was a perfect day for a parade.

On Saturday (May 30), more than 70 cars full of Fluvanna graduates drove around Lake Monticello then over to the high school.

Graduates Madison Crawford and Isaiah Jackson sat in the back of her bumble-bee yellow classic Ford pickup. Madison said she was there mainly because her niece, Ava Crawford, was graduating from kindergarten and wanted to celebrate.

Madison and Isaiah shrugged about school closing because of the pandemic. “We still had classes online,” Isaiah said. “(About the only upsetting thing) was not having prom.”

Madison said her grandfather gave her the truck when he died three years ago. She doesn’t drive it much because it’s too precious.

The parade was the fifth held at Lake Monticello in as many weeks, said Judy Fish.

Fish is co-editor of the Facebook page Lake Monticello News

Since the page’s inception on January 20, the LM News hit 1400 “likes” with posts reaching 20-30,000, Fish said.

Fish posted a story on April 30 about the Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department’s funding shortage.

The pandemic closed off just about all the LMVFR’s funding sources – a golf tournament, bingo and annual spring fund drive.

After the story ran, people started sending in donations. Fish said nearly $16,000 has been raised so far.

The synergy of Fish and Jeff Spinello, another Lake Monticello resident and classic car enthusiast, brought about the first parade.

When the pandemic shut down classic car cruise-ins and shows, Spinello wanted to find a way for his fellow car geeks to get together.

“Let’s do a parade,” he said.

The first one was just classic cars driving around Jefferson Drive (the main street that goes around the lake.

The second LMVFR took part, which helped raise awareness of the funding need and upped donations.

The next parade was led by the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s department.

Teachers called Spinello and said they’d like to take part in the next one. So on Memorial Day weekend school buses full of teachers joined the parade.

Of course graduates had to be included.

That’s how their parade came about.

Jessica Suttles stood outside her decorated car in her cap and gown. Jessica said she missed prom and hanging out at school with her friends, but “this is really cool we get to do this.”

Senior Richard Theberg sat with his parents Mel Sue Irvin and Jonathan Marrs waiting for the parade to start.

Richard, who is going to Piedmont Community College, said what he missed most about school was it organized his day.

“I’m happy it’s finally over, but I’m sad it’s done because it was my routine,” he said.

Sequoia Green is headed to Old Dominion University; Kendall Halstead to Longwood University. They stood in their caps and gowns outside their cars talking with friends and family.

We’re glad they’re doing this for us,”  Kendall said.

Kristen Pace, who is going to Liberty University, sat with her parents wearing her cap and gown. Kristen, too, was grateful for the parade.

“The community doing this is really special,” she said.

Fluvanna High School Principal Margo Bruce led the student section of the parade. Erika Morris, the high school counselor who helped get the word to students about the parade, sat in Bruce’s lead car.

Bruce loved the socially distancing answer to honoring seniors.

“This is amazing. Exciting. Another way to celebrate our graduates,” she said.

Lake Monticello Owners’ Association General Manager Steve Hurwitz celebrated the community spirit at the Lake.

“You know, we really didn’t have much to do with the planning, but we are so glad to have this for our seniors,” Hurwitz said.

Spinello said Hurwitz called a meeting Friday morning to make sure everyone was on the same page. Someone donated water so no one went thirsty and the owner’s association set up hand sanitizing and hand-washing stations.

The Lake Monticello police led the parade. Sheriff’s deputies, LMVFR, and county fire departments drove their cruisers and trucks with sirens and lights with the classic cars and seniors.

Along the parade route people sat on lawn chairs and held signs congratulating the graduates. At the traffic circle of routes Rts. 53 and 600, at least 20 people gathered to cheer on the seniors.


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