East Williston graduates get drive-in movie tribute

Dan Offner

The Village of East Williston held a drive-in movie event as a tribute to those graduating from private and public high schools.

The screening of highlights for the graduating seniors, which was planned as an alternative to a traditional commencement ceremony in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, was held on June 9 at the municipal lot adjacent to Village Hall.

Graduates and their families lined up outside as early as 8 p.m. for the first screening. Screenings were held in half-hour increments and the lot was emptied to make room for more cars.

In a letter to residents, Mayor Bonnie Parente acknowledged the hard work done by resident Dominique Dunne, who created the video of highlights.

“It was a great event and a wonderful way to let this segment of our community know that we celebrate their achievements, but acknowledge what they’ve lost in their senior year of high school,” Parente said.  “As resident recently stated to me, these high school seniors were affected the least by COVID – medically speaking – but lost the most in terms of proms, graduations, senior trips, etc. I’m proud of our community for honoring these seniors in this way.”

Members of the East Williston village board and Fire Department helped direct vehicles.

According to Parente, the evening was a major success thanks to the community effort, which includes the many people who helped with traffic safety and technology, such as Jim Bailey from the DPW, firefighters Chief James Clark, George Carlin, Tom Devaney, John Dietz, Scarlet Rodriguez, Rob Schoen Jr., Matt Vecchione, and East Williston neighbors Mike Baltzer, Matt Baltzer, Anthony Gallo, Tom McCauley, Kevin Parente Sr. and Kevin Parente Jr.

She added that without David Siskind and Raffaela Dunn, the event would not have happened at all. Emma Parente coordinated the line of cars for photos, and photographer Joel Harris donated his services for the event.

“It was a tremendous effort and we plan on doing more events like this one in the future,” Parente said.

Photos courtesy of Joel Harris Photography

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