Drive-In Graduations at Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre

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During these uncommon times, the Class of 2020 has inspired us all with their amazing courage, confidence and optimism. They deserve a stage as bold and unique as they are to celebrate the most monumental moment of their lives. 

That’s why Live Nation Special Events jumped at the chance to give two Connecticut high school senior classes an unforgettable drive-in graduation, where their friends and families could celebrate louder than ever as graduates walk the stage.

Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre marquee displays drive-in graduation information

Wallingford Public Schools had a special vision for the seniors of Mark T. Sheehan High School and Lyman Hall High School. They wanted an immersive graduation experience, where graduates could take the stage one by one and celebrate their achievements in front of beaming family and cheering fans over two separate days. The event would require the right space, a talented team and world-class technology, so they reached out to their longtime partners, the Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre.

Planning Every Detail

For two weeks, the Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre Special Events team worked closely with the Wallingford Public School leadership to plan a responsible event that met state requirements and Live Nation’s safety protocols and standards. With safety at the forefront, the teams planned a unique drive-in graduation that would be a night to remember for the graduates and their loved ones. 

A car full of graduates and guests is decorated with balloons in the Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre lot

Toyota Presents Oakdale understood the importance of keeping the guest experience as seamless, safe and epic as possible. Having a clear count on the number of attendees was key in order to successfully layout and guide the logistics for the event. Successful communication between the venue and schools ensured proper guidelines and social distancing requirements were implemented for a smooth event day. 

On arrival, graduates and guests’ cars were guided to social distanced parking spots by Oakdale’s friendly and informative staff. The venue’s huge availability of parking space allowed each graduate to have two carloads of family and friends to celebrate their accomplishments. The Special Events team developed a plan that utilized the multiple parking lots at Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre. The main lot would feature graduate cars, the stage and the ceremony; a perimeter lot would hold guest cars. 

Car with a smiling graduate and her family parked in the Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre lot

Connecting Our Guests

Because guests would be spread out amongst two different lots, a first-class audiovisual solution was critical to ensure that no one missed a second of the ceremonies. Oakdale’s team of event specialists and elite partners guided the experience including full-service production for state-of-the-art sound, radio transmitters, and various LED screens for viewing.

The venue worked with audiovisual experts HB Live Communications for a professional AV solution that connected and engaged every guest throughout each ceremony. HB Live Communications used an FM frequency to transmit sound to guests’ cars so that all names, speakers and awards could be heard with perfect clarity. They also provided a camera team that fed live footage to two large LED screens in the perimeter lot, so guests could watch the celebrations unfold in real-time. 

LED screen displays a graduate making a speech in the Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre lot

Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre’s team worked with HB Live Communications to plan and test every phase of their set-up to ensure a seamless live event performance. 

Safety & Signage

This was a new experience for everyone, but one thing that never changes is the commitment to deliver an extraordinary experience to guests. The Special Events team and Wallingford Public School officials made sure to think of every detail to ensure the safety of the graduates, their families and the staff while still making the day feel like a celebration.

For communication, an email was sent out to each graduate with the event logistics, safety and distancing guidelines clearly outlined. Prior to the event guests were sent color-coded hangtags that designated which lot to park in with the help of Pinpoint Promotions. For extra visibility, four sandwich boards displaying safety guidelines were also placed in each lot and the check-in area. Local officials, event staff and school administrators were on hand to direct traffic and ensure that guests understood the guidelines at every step of the way. 

Sandwich board displaying safety guidelines in the Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre lot

Equipped with PPE gear and successful completion of temperature checks, the friendly Toyota Presents Oakdale staff was present throughout the entire event to monitor and encourage safety measures were upkept. 

The Finale

The events were different and unique from your traditional graduation, but nevertheless friends and family celebrated louder than ever as they watched monumental moments from their cars. The careful planning and communication paid off for these two legendary graduations that were professionally executed from start to finish. After the events, both school principals, the superintendent and the mayor commended the Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre team on how smoothly the graduations went and commended the team for making it so easy for them.

“Our main goal was to provide the graduates with a memorable experience celebrating their hard work. Being in the middle of a pandemic should not take away from their achievements,” said Director of Special Events Lorraine Muha.

The Special Events teams’ biggest success? “Being able to give the graduates and their families a happy and lifelong memory during what has been a challenging 2020!” 

Learn more about how you can book your drive-in event or responsible graduation with Live Nation Special Events today!