Trumbull Eagles to take flight one more time
TRUMBULL — The idea for a town-wide celebration of Trumbull High’s Class of 2020 came to Dean Fabrizio while he was sitting in traffic.
“It was kind of weird, that we were up in Massachusetts and we got stuck behind a vehicle procession for the local high school,” Fabrizio said. “I think it was called The Final Run, and it was a small school with maybe 50 graduates. But I thought, ‘What if we could do this with 500 cars? That would be amazing.’”
Within days, the idea had turned into the Trumbull High School Class of 2020 Final Eagle Flythru: a car procession through town on June 21. The event would allow the graduates, who were denied a traditional graduation ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic, one last chance to be together as a class.
Fabrizio ran the idea past a few town and school officials and everyone had just one question: How can I help? he said.
“I was really swimming with the current,” he said. “The whole town is behind these kids.”
First Selectman Vicki Tesoro publicly announced the event Sunday in a recorded phone call.
“Students in cars driven by a parent will be part of the longest car procession ever in Trumbull,” she said. “This will be an historic event for THS seniors with guidelines in place to ensure the safety of our graduates and the community.”
With its large parking lot and access to the Merritt Parkway and two main roads through town, Westfield Trumbull mall was the logical staging area and procession starting point, Fabrizio said. And the mall management was eager to participate.
“It has been a very difficult year for so many in our community, and we are happy we can help make it a little brighter for the Trumbull High School class of 2020 and their parents,” said Westfield Vice President Paul Madden.
The plan is for the graduates to begin lining up in the mall’s Madison Avenue parking lot starting at 9 a.m. The procession will begin at 10 a.m. and proceed along Madison Avenue to Lake Avenue, along Lake to Main Street, then onto Whitney Avenue to Daniels Farm Road and through the Hillcrest and Trumbull High campus, where the procession will be greeted by the school’s teachers and staff.
Organizers are asking that a parent or family member other than the graduate drive in the procession, to leave the graduates free to wave and take photos and video.
Doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations, Fabrizio estimated the procession could extend more than four miles as the hundreds of vehicles snaked their way through town with a police escort. Other emergency responders are also planning to participate, as are teacher and parent groups.
“The response has been amazing,” he said. “I asked the Fathers Club for help, and in five minutes I got 11 volunteers.”
Part of the quick response is that Fabrizio had been working on the Post Prom Committee. With the post prom canceled, there was a pool of people who had agreed to help without a project to support.
Whether it is bicycle-riding fathers patrolling Westfield to enforce social distancing during the lineup, parents creating supportive signs and balloon, columns of emergency volunteers planning lights and siren salutes — everybody wanted to do something, Fabrizio said.
“It was like we tapped into this pool of pent-up energy,” he said. “Things are still coming together.”
Of course, all of this is happening during the same virus outbreak that forced the cancellation of graduation and the prom. Despite the state’s gradual relaxing of social distancing rules, participants must observe health protocols, Tesoro said.
“While this will be a great experience, we must remember, for the same reasons that other events were canceled, postponed or modified, we must comply with state guidelines,” she said. “This is not a parade. For this reason, we kindly ask that — above all — we practice social distancing. For traffic safety, there will be no parking along the route.”
Also all participants must remain seated in their vehicles for the duration of the event, she said.