PEABODY — Alex Marcus, who is shipping out Monday to Fort Jackson, S.C., to join the Army National Guard, said his quiet cul-de-sac on Jills Way had a pleasant interruption Friday afternoon.
"I've never seen the whole street out like this," said the smiling 23-year-old after dozens of well-wishers, family, friends, police and firefighters held a social distancing parade for him.
The 2015 Peabody Veterans Memorial High graduate is heading off to basic training for the next three months. After that, he plans to study cyber warfare in Arizona for another three months.
Marcus has been in quarantine the past couple of weeks while waiting to report on Sunday (before he flies out Monday), so he couldn't get together with his family and friends.
"I did not expect this," said Alex, as neighbors applauded. He was upstairs "hanging out" when the parade in his honor rolled up the steep street.
"It's tough not being able to have an appropriate goodbye with everybody and my family," Marcus said. "So they've had me quarantined over the last two weeks, but I'm excited to just get it over with."
The siren-and-horn filled parade included a Peabody police motorcycle officer, Peabody police cars, state police cruisers, a Peabody fire engine, tow trucks from Mallia's, Arrington and Gaeta's towing services, and dozens of cars filled with friends and well wishers. While the parade rolled on, a film crew from Peabody TV made a video of it.
Marcus waved to the parade with his mother, Patricia, 10-year-old sister Avery, and father, Doug Marcus, a lieutenant on the Peabody Police Department, while they stood in their front yard under the American flag on their house.
Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt rolled by with his daughter, Avery, in the front seat, and his young son, Brady, in the back, with a colorful hand-drawn sign along the side of his SUV that read: "Thank you Alex!"
Bettencourt shares a connection with Marcus, who worked the past few summers in the mayor's office as an intern. Bettencourt's daughter Avery also plays on a soccer team with Alex's sister Avery.
"A wonderful young man with a great future," Bettencourt said.
"I'm very proud of him," Doug Marcus said of his son, "to take the opportunity to volunteer to serve. It really means a lot to me that he wants to give back to the community, and this is one of his ways of doing that ... I'm scared for him, but at the same time I really feel he's a very smart kid ... this is what he wants to do."
Marcus graduated a semester early from Suffolk University with a double major in government and history, his mother said.
Arthur Dogramacian, who lives across the street from the Marcuses, stood outside holding an American flag as the parade rolled by.
"I think it's great," Dogramacian said. "I mean, it's a crazy time to be wanting to be in anything right now, and to end up taking that step, it's just very selfless of him."