Thursday, 31 December 2020 17:01

A LOOK BACK AT 2020: Parades of appreciation

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An employee of FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital-Richmond waves as a passing deputy offers thanks during a parade in April. An employee of FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital-Richmond waves as a passing deputy offers thanks during a parade in April. RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — With government-imposed restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many events were canceled in 2020.


Those events included the traditional Homecoming and Veterans Day parades in Rockingham, the Farmers Day parade in Ellerbe and the Hamlet Christmas parade.

However, there were several impromptu “parades” across the county that were more about appreciation than mere spectacle.

In late March, 10 days after Gov. Roy Cooper closed public schools across the state, teachers from L.J. Bell Elementary drove around the neighborhoods they serve, with children along the route holding signs to thank them.

Teachers from Mineral Springs had a similar parade in Ellerbe the following day.

On April 13, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office led a convoy of first responders from across the county from the Health Department to FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital-Richmond and the former Sandhills Regional Medical Center to thank local healthcare workers.

Sheriff James Clemmons said the goal of the parade was to “pick up the spirits of all those involved,” from the hospital and other workers in the health field ― including the hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes and hospice ― to all of the county’s law enforcement and firefighters and the community at large.

Mass gathering restrictions led Richmond County Schools to have a virtual graduation ceremony in May, but the following month, seniors and their families paraded around Rockingham Speedway.

Those indoor restrictions also affected children’s birthday parties, but communities across the country came together to help celebrate, including for one 6-year-old in Ellerbe.

In November, longtime doctor Fred McQueen was honored with a short retirement parade, with drivers honking their horns to thank him for his years of service and to offer well wishes.

The parade featured cruisers from the Hamlet Police Department and Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. One car even hung out a shirt from McQueen’s alma mater, Howard University.

Earlier this month, several downtown businesses came together for the Polar Express “reverse parade,” which drew thousands of vehicles to downtown Rockingham.

Drivers were treated to singing, dancing, decorations and gifts along the route.