Seniors at California State University, San Marcos were celebrated in a unique and social distancing-friendly manner Friday morning with a graduation parade.
A string of cars cruised through the campus as graduates traveled along the designated parade route, where CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt, faculty and staff were scattered along to cheer them on. The route began on Craven Drive from Twin Oaks Valley Road. Its exact path will be determined by the number of participants.
About 700 graduates RSVP'd to participate in the Friday morning celebration. Aerial footage from SkyRanger 7 showed car after car with cheerful graduates inside making its way through the campus.
“It was definitely heartwarming and different. I couldn’t wait for it to start," Andrea Berlanga said from inside her vehicle.
“It’s exciting. Something that most graduates honestly never get," Jakob Woo-Ming said upon completing the route. "Most people don’t get parades so you kind of feel special.”
Seniors Mikayla Meneses and Kevin Benitez told NBC 7 they were ecstatic to join the unique event.
"We’re honestly so honored that CSU is putting this together," Meneses said. "It’s so strategically planned and well thought out to adhere to the different health benefits and stuff.”
The pair, who were clad in their graduation gowns and sashes, couldn't hide their big smiles behind their face masks as they beamed about the graduation parade.
"Honestly, I feel like graduating, itself and commemorating and reflecting on all the work that we’ve done for so many years, it’s like your very first glimpse at your dream you’ve had since you were a kid," Benitez said. "And yes, it may not be the grand ceremony, however, for the faculty to be putting on such a special parade for us and do the best that they can for to accommodate for us, it’s super heartwarming.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, graduation celebrations have widely been canceled as a means to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Although the parade will honor the Class of 2020, the university stated that the festive event will not replace commencement and graduates can expect that to come at a later date once it is deemed safe.
“It is a special moment and ones that our graduates will never forget and we couldn’t let this moment go by without commemorating all their hard work and all that they have done," Neufeldt said.