Before graduation, parade honors WHS Class of 2021

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Photo by/Tami White
Drone photography shows cars encircling Westborough’s Hastings Elementary School, which served as a staging area for this year’s Class of 2021 parade.

By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor

WESTBOROUGH – Hundreds of honking cars decorated with window paint, balloons and streamers cut a more than mile-long path through Downtown Westborough June 5, as part of the town’s second annual graduation parade. 

Celebrating the Class of 2021, organizer Roberta Brown said this was more than just a big graduation party or a celebration of COVID-19’s loosening grip on daily life.

“Roberta wants people to build bridges with each other, to help each other, to get the community back and accepting of each other,” she said of herself in an interview the day before the parade. 

A longtime Westborough resident, Brown helped spearhead the town’s 300th Anniversary celebration in 2017. Remaining involved in a variety of other local causes, she then also worked last spring to organize a similar parade for the high school Class of 2020, which saw its senior spring quickly crumble under the weight of the surging pandemic. 

Through these experiences, though, she said she’s periodically run into a sense of disconnection in Westborough. Her desire to build bridges, she said, has driven her recent efforts.

“Let’s get together,” she said. “Let’s get back to common sense. Let’s get back to ‘Hey, I care about you, I care about your wellbeing.’”

Brown did have help in organizing all this. She specifically thanked the Select Board for their aid, and credited Westborough High School principal Brian Callahan with handling parts of the parade’s planning that related to the Westborough Public Schools.

“He takes care of it on the schools end of it and I take care of it on the town’s end of it,” she explained.

This parade itself ran from Hastings Elementary School to the high school. It featured over 200 cars, with an additional gathering of classic vehicles in the parking lot of Arturo’s Ristorante. The high school band also convened and played in that lot.

Farther down the parade route, meanwhile, a DJ entertained onlookers gathering around the downtown rotary.

“I felt bad for the kids last year and I feel bad for the kids this year,” Brown said. “But, this is full of fun, it’s full of energy, it gets the community going, it gets people together. It’s not just a graduation, for me, this is a party.”