By Cory L. Higgs
A parade of family members and others in the community gave Blue Ridge Therapy Connection residents a reason to smile, and maybe shed a few happy tears as the agency hosted a drive–thru parade to reconnect residents and their families in a ‘face-to-face,’ yet safe reunion.
Visitation at the facility has been restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many residents have kept up with their family via electronic means, Friday’s parade provided residents the opportunity ‘visit’ their relatives from a safe distance.
Carol Wood, spokesperson at the facility, said the event was initially planned as one large parade where all residents would be brought outside as friend and family drove by and waved to their resident from a safe distance. However upon further review, Wood said it was determined that would be considered a group gathering, so a structured plan was created to bring one resident to each entrance of the complex and schedule mini parades for the individual resident.
“Our residents are looking forward to it, and the families have been super excited,” Wood said, after announcing the parade. “Since the stay in place orders, the residents haven’t seen their families since mid-March,” so seeing them in person is going to be a big surprise, she added.
The event started at 1:15 and continued to 4:15 p.m., with decorated vehicles and eager families driving around the facility to glimpse their loved ones. The campus was decorated with balloon arches to designate the parade path.
Even though the parade came in scheduled waves, there was a continuous flow of traffic through the campus, as residents were shuffled in and out to view the parade at their designated time.
Cars weren’t the only thing in the parade; one resident, a former truck driver, was surprised at seeing the rig he used to drive. Another was surprised to see a family member driving a tractor — a nod to that resident’s love of farming.
Wood said that while this event was taxing to organizers and staff, with much of it changing due to social distancing guidelines, it was worth it to boost residents’ spirits and celebrate National Nursing Home Week.