Spring holidays looked different this year, due to shelter-at-home orders which made traditional gatherings challenging. As people sought to celebrate holidays, events and milestones, many found themselves curating innovative ways to ensure that spring holidays and celebrations were still meaningful.
Spring holidays were still celebrated, but just a little differently than usual. This year Easter egg hunts were limited to the backyard, sunrise services were virtually streamed, Seders were celebrated via Zoom, and Mother’s Day called for an at-home brunch celebration.
We understand the importance of special times with family members and friends, and we’ve found ways to stay closely connected.
Our FirstService Residential associates, residents and board members are no exception! Read their stories about innovative socially distanced celebration in the age of COVID-19.
As communities navigated through shelter-at-home orders, a novel, socially distant idea rolled up: the car parade. This allowed people to celebrate engagements, birthdays, graduations and other special milestones in a safe, festive way! The popularity of this festive fad accelerated during the pandemic and continues to stay relevant.
Staff members from the Port Liberté Community in Jersey City, New Jersey decided to organize a car parade for their residents. They taped encouraging signs to their cars and drove throughout the community with music playing in the background while beeping their car horns.
“Residents were outside on balconies, porches and driveways, banging pots and pans, saying hello as we stopped, played some music and danced or waved to everyone. It was fantastic to see our community members in person, at a distance,” says Judi Vreeland, property manager at Port Liberté HOA.
Donette Mabes, community manager at Governor's Pointe Village II in North Brunswick, New Jersey made a point to ensure the residents in her community had a special Easter. Donette's child dressed up as the Easter bunny, and her husband drove them throughout the community.
"I rode in the back of the truck to take some pictures of my residents who came out to say hello. We all practiced social distancing while we drove through spreading some cheer to all the families," says Mabes.
Even Easter egg hunts were different this year. Most were confined to homeowners’ backyards or homes.
Ashley Waterhouse, lifestyle manager at Great Parks Neighborhood in Irvine, California, had just the solution for this! So, she and her staff decided to deliver candy filled Easter eggs to every front yard in her community so that families could host a family Easter Egg Hunt from the comfort of their backyards. To include the adults in on the fun, Ashley and her team put numbers in one egg from each bunch. They drew 10 winning numbers, which all received $25 Amazon gift cards!
In addition to the Easter egg hunts, Waterhouse and Holly Maddalena, general manager at Great Parks Neighborhood, curated a special idea to help bring hope to their neighborhood.
"After some brainstorming, Holly got professionally designed and lit signs created for 3 locations in the neighborhood. She worked with the developer to propose the idea and was able to get funding from them. The signs were installed on Easter weekend and have continued to bring nearby traffic and residents hope," says Waterhouse.
Since the installation of the signs, families have congregated nearby to take photos and post on social media, emphasizing how much these signs meant to them. The signs helped the developer gain more traction in the media while providing great public relations opportunities. Not only did this bring a sense of joy to residents during a challenging time, but it also sent a positive message about the FirstService Residential onsite staff.
The EastLake II community in Chula Vista, California, is a large master-planned community with a schedule of many events planned for their residents. Like many communities, EastLake II was forced to cancel, reschedule, and switch the original calendar of events.
"We came up with some events that residents could do from home and still be a part of our community. Our first event was an at-home scavenger hunt. We had so many residents sign up for this event within hours of sending out mass communication to our residents and posting the activity on our Facebook page. We held it on Friday night, and our recreation director took the lead and ran with it. Prizes were awarded to the first five people to send over the completed list along with photos of the items found. They also had bragging rights on our Facebook page," says Nancy Layman, general manager.
Nancy said that because the event was well received by the board and residents, they plan on doing more events for upcoming spring holidays and special occasions. For Mother's Day, they planned and executed a “Decorate your Driveway in Chalk for Mother's Day” activity. It was a way for children to give back to their moms by showing them how much they care. They offered chalk to those who signed up, participated, and appointed prizes to the "Best Dressed Driveways." Nancy wanted her residents to know that she and her team care, and that they are all in this together.
As we venture closer to summer, we know that cookout season is upon us! This calls for cookouts, beach days, and pool parties with family and friends. But as pools and beaches across the country open back up, it’s important to remember that the best way to celebrate is safely. Plan your summer cookouts and Fourth of July celebrations with these socially distant ideas in mind.
Stay tuned for more heartwarming stories of how associates, board members and residents are taking action to support the people in their lives and communities. We are truly stronger together!