Isolated residents 'tremendously' enjoyed nearly hour-long parade
Arlene Nickle had her eyes peered out the window of her room at a lengthy car parade outside of Ottawa Pavilion when the one car she was hoping to see pulled up.
A sign reading “Mom We Miss and Love You” was outside of the vehicle and she could identify her family including her daughter, Nancy Polach, driving by with smiles and waves.
“They wouldn’t miss it!” Arlene said to The Times in a video call.
“I thought it was great,” she added.
Ottawa Pavilion has stopped guests from entering the building due to COVID-19 concerns as have other assisted-living facilities but staff worked with Danielle Jackson and her Facebook group, Illinois River Valley Pandemic Support, to host a car parade of roughly 75 cars to lift the spirits of the isolated residents. Jackson said she helped create a similar event at Heritage Woods of Ottawa and plans to reach out to other retirement communities.
Nancy hadn’t seen her mother in person since late-February, which brought tears to her face Sunday following a reunion on the other side of a window following the parade.
“Oh my gosh it was so heart touching,” Nancy recalled. “I’m not kidding, I’m going to cry (thinking back on it).”
Nancy took a photo of Arlene from behind the window and while she came there to see her mother she was touched by the other many residents waving to the strangers in vehicles, happy to see others after so long in isolation.
“Everyone was so excited and everyone I talked to who was there cried through the whole thing. Just seeing all those faces waving at you,” Nancy said.
Activity Director Christine Simmons was just as touched by the display and led the parade.
A final count of the vehicles was not available due to the high turnout but the parade lasted in its entirety just short of an hour.
“The residents definitely enjoyed it tremendously as did the staff,” Christine said.
While Arlene and Nancy have been separated for nearly a month, with more time expected, Ottawa Pavilion has been setting up video calls with family.
Christine said it was a great way to connect residents with their loved ones for some face-to-face time and is using her own personal devices to make the connections.
She estimates they connected with people across the United States as well as Mexico, Canada and Australia.
“We’re kind of traveling the world right now with FaceTime. It’s awesome,” Christine said with a smile.
“We’ve had a couple of them get to see their first great-great-grandchild for the first time through chats,” she added.
Residents are kept mainly in their rooms but the staff is trying to keep up a regular routine that includes bingo over intercom through the building on Mondays and the ice cream cart visits residents every Thursday, both are favorites of Arlene’s.
Christine said Sunday’s event brought a smile to everyone in the building and thanked those that participated.
“I just liked to see how the community came out and put a smile on their face,” Christine said.
For more information on the Illinois River Valley Pandemic Support group, visit their Facebook page at fb.com/groups/793113301214908.