OCEAN CITY — Stephen Decatur High School’s graduation procession on the Boardwalk will return after resort officials signed off on the request this week.
Decatur’s graduation procession last spring during the height of COVID with stay-at-home orders still in place was perhaps one of the most feel-good events of the early pandemic. For much of the spring last year with gathering limits and other restrictions in place, it appeared Decatur’s class of 2020 would not have a graduation ceremony.
The town of Ocean City then partnered with the Berlin high school on a unique concept of a graduation procession down the Boardwalk. The graduating seniors went down the Boardwalk in a motorcade of sorts with parents, family and friends lining the promenade and cheering them on.
Although many restrictions have eased, it remained uncertain what Decatur’s class of 2021’s graduation would look like this year. On Monday, the Mayor and Council had before them a request from Decatur to renew approval for the Boardwalk graduation procession again this year and the council unanimously approved the request.
Special Events Director Frank Miller explained the ceremonial procession down the Boardwalk would be held from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25, with a rain date of Wednesday, May 26. The procession will begin at the north end of the Boardwalk at 27th Street with a photo opportunity at North Division Street, before the vehicles exit the Boardwalk at Dorchester Street.
Miller explained the 2021 event will mirror the 2020 procession for the most part with one exception. Last year, with gathering restrictions in place, the town provided a live-stream of the graduation procession. With many of the COVID restrictions eased this year, the town will not be providing the live-stream and the school is making other arrangements.
“It was so popular last year, the kids and the school are asking to do it again,” he said. “The format is similar to last year, but the town will not be providing a live-stream. The school will be doing a Facebook live of the event.”
On a Tuesday in May, the graduation procession is not expected to disrupt normal activity on the Boardwalk. Miller said the significant impact will likely be with the Boardwalk trams.
“Weather permitting, up to eight Boardwalk trams may be in operation after 4 p.m.,” he said. “For safety, the trams will cease operating during the procession. The trams will relocate south of Dorchester Street until the procession is complete.”