Yorkton and District Nursing Home residents got a happy surprise when they learned on the morning of June 26 that a parade had been organized just for them.
“They were super excited and pleased,” said Suzanne Beck, the home’s health services manager. “They haven’t had a whole lot going on due to COVID-19 restrictions. This has been a period marked by boredom and loneliness, so this was a moment of sunshine.”
Families, staff and the community came together to create a festive procession. At the front of the parade were an RCMP honour guard and Yorkton’s fire services, both of whom saluted Yorkton seniors. Other participants included the local radio station, which provided music, Western Development Museum staff in period costume, dancers, people on horseback, the St. John Ambulance pet therapy program and 20-25 families of residents who drove in decorated cars or bikes or walked, some while pushing bedecked strollers.
Beck noted one resident during the event became emotional as she watched the passersby and said, “It brings tears to my eyes to see the community and to be able to be outdoors.”
Residents lined the grounds of the block-long facility to watch the merriment, all while ensuring physical distancing measures were respected.
The event needed to remain a surprise until the last moment, said Beck, to ensure members of the community didn’t unexpectedly show up. Although well-meaning, their presence may have made physical distancing more difficult.
Beck noted that the parade was the first entertainment that has been arranged for residents since COVID-19. “Before, we had weekly entertainment.”
Recreation and day wellness staff organized the event, working closely with nursing staff, as a substitute for the home’s annual outdoor fair. The fair mimics the exhibition, with a petting zoo, cotton candy and paid entertainment.
Although the parade, which looped the home twice, was over in 45 minutes, the residual effects last much longer, said Beck.
“It doesn’t end the day you do it. It gives residents something to talk about for days. It creates a lot of positive vibrations throughout the facility.”
Cheryl Gerrard, a member of the recreation and day staff team, and Evelyn Krelewetz, a resident, watch the festivities.