It was an evening that was so different, yet provided some normalcy.
Laramie High senior student-athletes sporadically arrived Friday and took their designated places that went around the perimeter of the field at Deti Stadium. They were adhering to social distancing guidelines because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A line of vehicles soon after stretched from the southwest corner of the stadium, wrapping around the south side of the school toward Boulder Drive. And a drizzle from the sky above that later turned into a steady rain didn’t dampen the spirits while celebrating 35 seniors who didn’t get to compete their final spring seasons.
These difficult times required out-of-the-box thinking by a multitude of people at LHS and the community.
The final goals, the fastest times, the highest and longest marks and the smoothest strokes ultimately became the first ever drive-through parade to honor the senior student-athletes for boys and girls soccer, outdoor track and field and fall/spring golf.
“Once we knew we weren’t having sports in the spring, then found out we weren’t coming back into the school at all for the rest of the semester, it really became ‘how are we going to make sure, and as a community, to pay respect to the senior student-athletes for the years they’ve been in the programs?’” said LHS activities and athletics director Ron Wagner.
“We wanted to recognize them, and it started with a small idea of a few different nights (for each sport). Then the administration team at the high school got to talking about it and the idea just kept getting bigger, bigger and bigger.
“So we decided to have one big hoorah, blow the lid off the event, have a great time and celebrate these kids right.”
A detailed release of procedures and guidelines preceded the parade. The student-athletes stayed at least 10 feet apart, the vehicles were not parking or stopping during the drive around the oval and everyone not in a vehicle was wearing a facemask.
“(Albany County School District No. 1 Superintendent) Dr. Jubal Yennie worked hard with our county health officer (Dr. Jean Allais) to get the event approved,” Wagner said.
And there was plenty of waving, honking and cheering.
“The coaches were super ecstatic we were looking to do a big event for the whole community, and I had a lot of people who said it meant a great deal for the community of Laramie to have a celebration,” Wagner said. “We don’t get to do much of that now.”
The Laramie police and fire departments were on hand to help with the event and celebrate, too.
David Settle from KOWB 1290 AM broadcasted the senior scripts on the radio and LHS game announcer Sean Moore read them for the stadium speakers.
“David Settle was great and all in with helping in any way he could,” Wagner said. “Sean Moore said he couldn’t wait to get into the football press box, announce the kids and play some tunes. The police and fire departments said it would be an honor to celebrate these kids — it was absolutely positive feedback we got for this event.
“We know the sooner we can get back to anything that even seems like normal will make people better mentally and physically. Even though it was only a half hour to 45 minutes, at least it was 45 minutes of celebrating our great kids, the community and having a blast doing it.”