It was a festive atmosphere in the parking lot of Kalona City Park Monday evening, with an almost tailgate party-like vibe.
On the picture-perfect spring night, teachers and staff brought their vehicles to the park to line up for a parade through Kalona and Richmond.
“I think it’s an awesome display of unity and showing the kids that we’re MP strong,” Mid-Prairie West Elementary Principal Bill Poock said.
The parade was organized to let students know that their teachers are still thinking about them while school is shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After leaving the park, about 100 vehicles wound their way through Kalona and Richmond.
Many of the vehicles had signs telling students that they are missed. Banners and signs were waved from moonroofs, instruments were played in the back of a pickup truck and a school bus adorned with a mask pulled up the rear of the parade.
“I think it’s absolutely awesome,” said Traci Waterhouse, nurse at Mid-Prairie Middle School and West Elementary. “Our kids are going to get to see us, and we get to see them. It’s just good connections.”
Leslie Duvall, a preschool associate at West Elementary, said, “I think it’s very important to keep in contact with the kids. They are as much our family as we are theirs.”
Mid-Prairie East Elementary Principal Robin Foster said everyone is missing their students.
“At this point, we’re doing what we can to see some familiar faces, especially the students that we miss greatly right now,” Foster said. “We hope they miss us as much as we miss them. We’re used to seeing them for seven or eight hours a day. We miss them terribly.”
Lori Miller, who teaches preschool at West Elementary, said, “It’s very exciting. I can’t wait to see the kids. We get to see staff too.”
Mid-Prairie Middle School Principal Marc Pennington said that the parade was good for teachers and students alike.
“Just to get out and see people, see the kids and see the families. It’s kind of energizing for everybody,” Pennington said. “This could be a long haul, so I think to be able to see everybody on this beautiful night and see their smiling faces it’s a pretty big deal for us. I think it’s a win win win deal for everyone.”
Another parade is planned for 6 p.m., Wednesday in Wellman and West Chester.