Select Board approves 2022 Westborough senior car parade

Police, Select Board members note safety concerns from past parades

914
Drone photography shows last year’s Westborough senior class car parade. (Photo/Tami White)

WESTBOROUGH – Westborough’s senior class car parade will return this spring. 

Town officials have clear warnings for participants to follow safety protocols, though, after hearing a variety of concerns about students hanging out of open sunroofs, among other actions, during past parades.

“It’s been very popular,” Select Board Chair Ian Johnson said on Monday. “But it doesn’t have to go on if we can’t follow the rules.”

‘I want this to go on’

The parade was first held in 2020 as a way to celebrate the Westborough High School Class of 2020, which was missing out on other spring traditions due to COVID-19. 

It returned in 2021 as the pandemic’s disruptions continued. 

Organizers then came before the Select Board on Monday asking to bring the parade back once again for 2022. 

Though many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, allowing common senior year traditions to resume, organizer Roberta Brown said she sees continuing value in the parade.

“I want this to go on,” she said. “…We just want everyone to have fun in our community.”

Running from Hastings Elementary School to Westborough High School, the parade gives seniors a chance to celebrate ahead of their graduation. 

Businesses are invited to decorate their storefronts in support of the graduating class, while onlookers have often gathered to join in the festivities.

Detailing plans, Brown noted this week that a policy requiring individual vehicles to be driven by operators over the age of 21 will continue.

Select Board, police note concerns

Westborough Police Chief Jeffery Lourie speaks with Westborough Select Board members during a meeting on Monday. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

Brown said that the age restriction was originally conceived in an effort to ensure safety. 

Speaking to the Select Board, though, Police Chief Jeffery Lourie said that there have been issues. 

He said officers saw multiple instances of students riding in their vehicles in unsafe ways, such as students hanging out of the sunroofs or sitting on vehicle roofs, in both 2020 and 2021. 

Police reminded students to remain seated in their cars during the parade. But the feedback, Select Board member Shelby Marshall said, “wasn’t friendly.”

“That’s an understatement,” Lourie said. 

Select Board members, police officials and organizers continued to discuss this year’s parade plans on Monday, touching on a number of other topics, including volunteer coordination, communication with businesses about the timing of road closures, costs to the town associated with this event, and the prominence of sponsorship banners around a possible DJ booth on Westborough’s downtown rotary.

‘This is just trying to make this better’

As Select Board members ultimately approved a road closure for this year’s parade, officials reiterated their support for organizers, Westborough’s larger Spirit Committee, and the parade event. 

They, likewise, called for parade participants to follow the rules when told to remain seated in their vehicles.

“Serious things can happen at very low speeds…sitting on the roof of a car out of a sunroof is not acceptable,” Marshall said. “One accident turns into a tragedy and now all of a sudden this event is no longer fun.”

“This is just trying to make this better,” Johnson added. “We want to support our police here to make it safe for everybody.”

The parade is set for the morning of June 4, prior to Westborough High School’s graduation.

Contacted on Thursday, Brown said more specific details of the parade plan are still being finalized to be announced at a later date.

RELATED CONTENT

Before graduation, parade honors WHS Class of 2021

Parade for high school seniors gets go-ahead from selectmen