Thirteen seniors from Havelock, New Bern, Pamlico County and even Pennsylvania took part in a parade in Carolina Pines on Friday evening to celebrate their graduation.


They were joined by the Craven County Sheriff’s Office, the Craven Crawlers three-wheeled bicycle club, the Havelock Classics Rods and Tuners car club and – briefly – by the Township 6 Fire Department.


The parade was the dreamchild of Lisa Branton, whose daughter Paytra had found herself unable to say goodbye to friends after the high school she was attending in Pennsylvania simply closed down during the coronavirus.


The Brantons had recently moved to North Carolina from Pennsylvania and, while her younger sibling attended local schools, Paytra decided to finish her senior year in Pennsylvania, traveling there once a month for class work while doing most of it online. But, while local schools shifted to an online schedule to finish out the school year, Paytra’s school in Pennsylvania simply closed its doors, her mother said.


With no prom or graduation to look forward to, Branton decided to let her daughter have a day with a parade. She began notifying people through the Carolina Colors Facebook page and Adopt-a-Senior Craven County Facebook page, inviting any teens to take part.


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Township 6 Fire Department agreed to let her use the station on Carolina Pines Boulevard as a staging point, and also volunteered to lead the 6:30 p.m. parade – but minutes after the parade began a fire call came in and the station had to abandon the parade to respond.


The students appeared, some in prom dresses (one young lady’s head was ringed with a wreath of flowers) while others came in just whatever they had on. Several cars were festooned with decorations and the riding students’ names.


The car club brought a few cars as well. “It’s a shame the kids are getting cheated out of the graduation,” club member Mark Maloney said. “Some of them, (graduation) didn’t come so easy.”


Another member, John Fontaine who lives in Carolina Pines, said he had invited fellow club members to join the parade.


Seniors were pleased with the parade. “I’m really excited to get to do this,” McKenzie Rodriguez, a Pamlico student, said.