Blaring car horns usually indicate angry drivers — impatient people stuck in traffic, emotions running high after near-crashes at busy intersections.
But during the coronavirus crisis, honking of horns is welcome. It's a happy noise — the more the better.
Car parades featuring happy horns have become common across the city. In these socially distant times, the parades mark birthdays and anniversaries. They allow church members to reach out to their priests and ministers, teachers to see their students in a way that doesn't involve a computer screen.
And so the trend continues as the pandemic persists.
Nearly two months into the public schools closure due to COVID-19, Silver Hill Elementary and Haverhill High School were the latest to use vehicle parades to celebrate students and maintain a socially distant connection.
Silver Hill Principal Mary Ellen Lucas and Assistant Principal Brendon Parker joined staff in the parking lot of the Washington Street school on Friday of last week, while students in kindergarten through fifth grade and their families drove by and waved and cheered from a distance.
"This is a true family community and a way to keep the connections alive among all," Lucas said.
"It also reassures the Jaguar families,'' she said, referring to the school mascot,'' that we care and lets them have some fun during this challenging time for all. We are in this together and together we can and will make a difference.”
One of the organizers, physical education teacher Kevin Murphy, said the event was dubbed a "reverse parade" since it was confined to the school parking lot. Traditional school-related vehicle parades have traveled throughout the city, visiting neighborhoods surrounding schools and other key points in Haverhill.
The Silver Hill parade was largely made possible by the school's Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports staff, Murphy said, adding that the group showed up with signs, balloons and streamers to make sure the event was festive. Participants even took photos to share with art teacher Sheila Jameson, who could not attend the parade in person.
A few miles away on Monument Street, Haverhill High School's Multiple Support Program celebrated its senior special needs students with a parade, also last Friday morning.
Teacher Amanda Borowski was joined for the event by colleagues Tyler George, Amy Labb and Jan Scanlan, along with several support staff members.
All students in the program, which focuses on providing a variety of therapies — including physical, occupational, mobility, speech and vision therapies — received a drive-by visit at their homes, Borowski said.