Close to 50 cars gathered in the parking lot of Trinity United Presbyterian Church Sunday before heading off for a Palm Sunday procession — at a safe distance.

Sunday was Palm Sunday — the day little children march in Christian churches all over town, waving palm branches to recall Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

It’s a day that marks the beginning of the Christian tradition’s Holy Week, which culminates Friday with his crucifixion and Sunday with his rising from the dead.

This Palm Sunday, the coronavirus drove the celebration of the most holy week in Christianity out of churches and into the streets.

Close to 50 cars processed from Trinity United Presbyterian Church down Howard Street to Iowa Avenue, and back down Buxton Street to the church.

Those in the parade waved palms or displayed palms they had colored themselves on their cars. Laura and Greg Avitt and their children Grace and Ben were driving their 68 Camaro. In addition to being members of Trinity, they said the car gave them a responsibility.

“If you have a cool car, it has to come out on parade days,” said Laura Avitt.

“We always go in a line in the sanctuary and slowly go through with the little kids,” waving palms, said Grace.

“Instead of waving them in the sanctuary, now we get to wave them in the community today,” said Laura. “It’s kind of a fun tradition and good social distancing.”

The parade was the closest Jim and Julia Thorius of Indianola had been to other people in weeks. The two were in California when the COVID-19 outbreak began. After driving home, they self-isolated at home for 14 days.

“Normally, we’d be there (at church) and watch the kids come in and wave their palms,” said Jim. “This year, we watched it on a tablet.”

Thorius said the live stream on a tablet is a huge step up from the earlier system, where people who missed the service could check out a cassette tape of the sermon.

“This may be part of the new normal,” he said. Palm Sunday on the streets might be as well. “It looks like there’s a big turnout,” he said, checking out the line of cars behind him.

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