After disappointment rippled through Brainerd High School over the impossibility of an in-person commencement ceremony this year, some parents rallied together to organize a graduation parade.

A virtual ceremony will be livestreamed at 8 p.m. Friday, May 22, but prior to that seniors will parade around the track at Brainerd International Raceway.

Students will get to wear their caps and gowns and ride in their cars along with immediate family members. They can decorate their cars, and names will be read as each student drives by. If possible, teachers may line the track — while socially distant — with signs of well wishes for graduates. After driving around the track, students will be able to turn around and come back, passing one another’s cars so they can see their fellow graduates.

Cars will line up on the pro pad at the end for a photo opportunity, with a drone planned to fly overhead. If possible, students are encouraged to write their name on the top of their vehicle.

Organizers hope to have a photo station somewhere as well for seniors to take pictures in their caps and gowns.

A parent involved in the planning who did not want to be named said parents have worked with BIR owner Kristi Copham and Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan to make sure the event complies with recommended health guidelines. Only graduates and members of their household are allowed in each vehicle, and all vehicles must be enclosed. No one one is allowed to ride in convertibles, open Jeeps or in truck beds.

Cars will begin lining up at 3:30 p.m., with the parade running from 4-7 p.m.

Final details were still coming together as of Friday, May 15.

With the rug pulled out from under graduates this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the parent who spoke with the Dispatch said she hopes the parade will help both parents and seniors to cope with all the changes.

“It is what it is,” she said. “Let’s make the best of it.”

Organizers have set up a GoFundMe page and are accepting donations to help defray the costs of the celebration. The page can be visited at

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at