They skipped school or got proper permission to ditch class.

It didn’t matter to the kids lining Peachtree Street on Friday morning. One way or another, truant or not, they weren’t going to miss this Atlanta Braves parade.

Not for school. Not when it’s the city’s first World Series win in 26 years.

“We played hooky,” said Cooper Rose, 11, a fifth grade student at Youth Elementary School in Walton County.

He and his twin sister, Olivia, and friend Channing Pittman, 10, got to their parade perch on Peachtree Street hours before the festivities began, accompanied by the twins’ dad, Kenny.

“We begged him to go,” said Olivia. “I really like the excitement of it, and I just all in all love the Braves.”

They toted homemade signs — Olivia’s read “Hey, Ozzie, I play second base too. Wanna date?” — and pearl necklaces.

Caption
Olivia Rose, 11, Channing Pittman, 10, and Cooper Rose, 11, of Walton County made their own signs to cheer on the Braves. VANESSA McCRAY/AJC

Olivia Rose, 11, Channing Pittman, 10, and Cooper Rose, 11, of Walton County made their own signs to cheer on the Braves. VANESSA McCRAY/AJC
Caption
Olivia Rose, 11, Channing Pittman, 10, and Cooper Rose, 11, of Walton County made their own signs to cheer on the Braves. VANESSA McCRAY/AJC

At least nine metro Atlanta school systems closed Friday, citing logistical challenges with snarled traffic, road closures and low staffing levels. The pop-up holiday impacts more than 600,000 school children, some of whose parents had to scramble to find child care.

But back in 1995, when the city last hosted a World Series parade, students were expected to come to class.

An Atlanta Public Schools spokeswoman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the time that there would be no excused absences for parade-goers: “School will go on as usual,” she said.

The warnings weren’t heeded. The Braves youngest fans happily went AWOL.

Gwinnett high schools reported nearly a third of their students skedaddled. Some schools bent to pressure, broadcasting live parade coverage in media centers and cafeterias.

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Jason and Heather Kirksey of Marietta with their three-year-old twins Harper, left, and Emma Cate celebrate the World Series win on Peachtree Street. VANESSA McCRAY/ AJC

Jason and Heather Kirksey of Marietta with their three-year-old twins Harper, left, and Emma Cate celebrate the World Series win on Peachtree Street. VANESSA McCRAY/ AJC
Caption
Jason and Heather Kirksey of Marietta with their three-year-old twins Harper, left, and Emma Cate celebrate the World Series win on Peachtree Street. VANESSA McCRAY/ AJC

Heather Kirksey was among thousands of students who skipped school on Oct. 30, 1995. As a lifelong fan — her dad worked for Delta and the family often traveled to away games — that day has been etched in her memory ever since.

“It was electric. Everyone was just so excited because the city won. We were champions,” said Kirksey, then a high school sophomore in Fayetteville. “The parade just seemed like a fairy tale.”

For years, she’s hoped to give her three-year-old twin daughters that same experience. So much so, that her official work bio includes her dream to one day take her girls to a championship parade.

It finally came true Friday.

Kirksey and her husband Jason travelled from their home in Marietta to downtown Atlanta to cheer on the team. And there was no way Emma Cate and Harper were going to daycare and missing it.

”It wouldn’t have mattered what age they were. They weren’t going to school. This is bucket-list type stuff,” she said.

The girls have been looking forward to a parade since early in the postseason. They counted down each win knowing it was a step closer to a city-wide party. Tuesday night, they watched the first three innings before reluctantly going to bed. When the Braves clinched, their parents woke them up so they could celebrate together.

“At three years old, a parade is a big deal,” Kirksey said.

Caption
Abygail and Asylee Robinson, 10-year-old twins from Lawrenceville, said they likely would have been taking a reading test if their Gwinnett school hadn’t been cancelled for the Braves parade. Their grandmother bedazzled their custom masks for the event. VANESSA McCRAY/ AJC

Abygail and Asylee Robinson, 10-year-old twins from Lawrenceville, said they likely would have been taking a reading test if their Gwinnett school hadn’t been cancelled for the Braves parade. Their grandmother bedazzled their custom masks for the event. VANESSA McCRAY/ AJC
Caption
Abygail and Asylee Robinson, 10-year-old twins from Lawrenceville, said they likely would have been taking a reading test if their Gwinnett school hadn’t been cancelled for the Braves parade. Their grandmother bedazzled their custom masks for the event. VANESSA McCRAY/ AJC

Ten-year-old twins Abygail and Asylee Robinson came with their grandmother, Shernetta Gandy, from Lawrenceville. If Gwinnett had school Friday, they would likely be taking a fifth-grade reading test, they said.

A parade beats that.

“This is my very first World Series parade, and I don’t know when I’ll get to see another one,” Gandy said. “I bring them out to give them the experience of Atlanta.”

She was pleased schools closed because she planned to take the girls no matter what.

“We wanted to see the baseball players and also since they won it’s a one-in-a-lifetime thing,” said Asylee, who wore a custom “A” mask bedazzled by her grandmother.

Caption
Daniel Gonzalez brought Katherine, 9, and Kellie Rodriguez, 5, to the Braves parade, where a highlight was seeing Blooper and their favorite players. VANESSA McCRAY/AJC

Daniel Gonzalez brought Katherine, 9, and Kellie Rodriguez, 5, to the Braves parade, where a highlight was seeing Blooper and their favorite players. VANESSA McCRAY/AJC
Caption
Daniel Gonzalez brought Katherine, 9, and Kellie Rodriguez, 5, to the Braves parade, where a highlight was seeing Blooper and their favorite players. VANESSA McCRAY/AJC

When Katherine Rodriguez, 9, learned her Fulton County school would be closed she felt “so, so, so happy.”

“Can you believe this?” she asked.

Seeing the players and the team’s mascot, Blooper, drive by during the parade was so exciting, said the girl, who watched along with her sister Kellie, 5.

How long would they remember this day?

“Forever,” Katherine said.

Caption
Siblings Harper, 8, Hattie, 10, and Hank, 12, Vaughn of Griffin, Georgia got to the parade route early Friday with their parents. The homeschooled family said it was an easy decision to take a day off from schoolwork to attend the celebration. VANESSA McCRAY/ AJC

Siblings Harper, 8, Hattie, 10, and Hank, 12, Vaughn of Griffin, Georgia got to the parade route early Friday with their parents. The homeschooled family said it was an easy decision to take a day off from schoolwork to attend the celebration. VANESSA McCRAY/ AJC
Caption
Siblings Harper, 8, Hattie, 10, and Hank, 12, Vaughn of Griffin, Georgia got to the parade route early Friday with their parents. The homeschooled family said it was an easy decision to take a day off from schoolwork to attend the celebration. VANESSA McCRAY/ AJC

Since the Vaughn siblings — Harper, 8; Hattie, 10; and Hank, 12 — are homeschooled, they only had to convince two people to let them take the day off: Their parents.

Their dad, Brandon, who wore a Braves jacket he’s had since middle school, said it was an easy sell: “I’m the principal.”

The family from Griffin, Georgia, spent the night in a downtown hotel so they could stake out their parade spot early.

“I told my wife earlier in the week, I said, ‘if the Braves win, we’re going to the parade,’” Brandon Vaughn said. “Then I read an article that said they were expecting a million people. It caused me a bit of pause..., but then, you gotta be here.”

Caption
Sara Fort and her son Levi, 12, live close to the parade route. Photo courtesy of Sara Fort

Credit: Sara Fort

Sara Fort and her son Levi, 12, live close to the parade route. Photo courtesy of Sara Fort
Caption
Sara Fort and her son Levi, 12, live close to the parade route. Photo courtesy of Sara Fort

Credit: Sara Fort

Credit: Sara Fort

Sara Fort grew up a Braves fan in Gwinnett County, going to games at the old downtown ballpark. Her dad insisted on leaving during the seventh-inning stretch to beat traffic, and they’d listen to the rest of the game on the car radio.

When the Braves won it all 26 years ago, Fort wanted to go to the parade. But she knew her mother, who worked at her high school, would not let her skip.

Fort said she only found out this week that her mom went to the parade herself.

Now Fort lives just off the parade route in the Old Fourth Ward and this winning season has made her son Levi, 12, into a big Braves fan. He injured his leg Sunday, but still watched that night’s game from the emergency room.

She had already decided she’d let him skip school Friday to see the parade, but then Atlanta Public Schools announced it cancelled classes.

“I love that he’ll be able to have that experience that I didn’t really have in ‘95,” she said.

Audience specialist Pete Corson contributed to this article.

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