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'Honks for Hugs' car parade spreads love at Avon Lake senior living center hours before 'stay at home' order took effect

The hour-long parade around the Independence Village of Avon Lake parking lot proved that the coronavirus could not shut down love.

AVON LAKE, Ohio — Figuring out how to stay meaningfully connected while following the rules of social distancing is the dilemma of our time. However, staff at Independence Village of Avon Lake is connecting residents to their families by substituting hugs for beeping horns. 

“Let’s keep people in their cars and just bring smiles to everybody’s faces,” explains Independence Village Life Enrichment Director Emily Goers. “Our goal really is just that, to make them (the residents) smile and bring a little joy and connectedness to their day.”

And that’s exactly what happened Monday afternoon at the Honks for Hugs Car parade. The event occurred just hours before Ohio's stay-at-home order was set to take effect.

The senior living community had already been under a no visitation policy due to COVID-19.

“It's thrilling. I have four cars of my family that went through today,” says Independence Village Resident Betty Webb. “I was in that window and I was just crying because when ever do you get this many people to respond.” 

Cars decorated with inspirational messages circled the parking lot of the senior living community while residents waved from behind windows and balconies.

“I had to do my queenly wave of course,” jokes resident Shirley Kasey, who says she moved to the states from England in 1974.

And although the coronavirus pandemic has shut down schools, businesses and close interaction, the Honks for Hugs Car Parade is showing that the virus can't shut down love.

“It’s just showing me that there’s a lot of love out there,” says parade participant Renee Forman. “There's a lot of people that are just doing the right thing and just loving on each other and being there for each other during this difficult time when you can't be close to each other.”

Even though you may not be able to get close, this parade is also teaching residents that you can have the right perspective.

“There are lots and lots of good people around,” says Kasay. “You got to pay attention to them and not get all tied up with the negative stuff.  Try to keep positive.”

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