Mother’s Day is always a big day for celebration at Arbour Square of Harleysville, an Independent Living Community in beautiful Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. With the COVID-19 pandemic putting the brakes on many social activities throughout the senior living industry, Arbour Square stepped up to provide its residents who are mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, etc.—and their families—with a special day that won’t be forgotten.
Taking inspiration from car parades seen on social media, Arbour Square team members invited their residents’ family members to get creative and decorate their cars and join a drive-by parade on May 9 to show the Arbour Square community of seniors how much they are loved and appreciated.
Plans for the event were laid quickly but precisely, with proper social distancing and other guidelines put in place to protect everyone at the community, as well as family members. Initially, the team expected about 25 to 30 cars to participate in the parade, which would loop around Arbour Square’s large tree-lined campus and allow residents to watch the procession of cars from their apartment windows—a good thing, as heavy winds were forecasted for that day.
A Show Like No Other
The day of the parade, Melissa Crouse, Arbour Square’s Joy Director, and fellow team member Patty Toal went through the final logistics and prep, which included prominently displaying signs and setting cones to clearly mark the route. The team had previously given families instructions to meet up at 1:30PM in the parking lot behind the community to decorate, or finish decorating, their cars and begin lining up behind the Arbour Square van, which would set the pace and lead the way.
At around 1:00PM, Melissa and Patty were placing the last cones when the first car pulled in with an adult child of a mother who lives at Arbour Square. “I thought, and said aloud, that she must have wanted to be the first in line,” says Melissa with a laugh. “Little did I know that the cars would continue to roll in nonstop, one after another.”
As the cars continued making their way to the parking lot, Melissa went inside the community to make sure the residents were ready and making their way to their windows. “When I returned to the parking lot at about 1:45PM, cars were spilling out of the parking lot and causing a traffic jam at Walmart,” she says. “And I was blown away by the creativity. We had cars with balloons, cars with signs, streamers, flags—you name it, we had it. We even had a decked-out Philly firetruck turn up to show some love!”
When Pat, the van driver leading the course, was ready to pull out, he looked in his rearview mirror and could not see an end to the cars behind him, relaying how incredible it made him feel about being part of such a big and important event. After completing the first loop around the campus, Pat circled back to the waiting area because the last cars in line had not yet hit the official parade route. The team stopped counting after 100 vehicles.
Melissa says with emotion, “It was truly astonishing to see the turnout. We had so many family members who wanted to take the time to send their love to our residents. All generations were represented—adult children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were waving pom poms, playing music, singing, and shouting Happy Mother’s Day to every lady they saw. I’m pretty sure everyone forgot about the cold and wind.”
Love and Gratitude
Arbour Square Executive Director Mimi Kehan says it was one of the best family events she’s seen at the community in her 11 years as Executive Director there. “The cars, trucks, bikes came streaming in, each one decorated more beautifully than the last,” she says with emotion. “It was clear that everyone was full of love for our residents. We honked and screamed and laughed and cried all through the four times around the building. It was a blast.”
Days and weeks later, the notes of gratitude from residents and families were still coming in. What is clear from the comments is that residents and families were blown away by such a joyful and creative way to connect with loved ones, with some brought to tears by being able to see, if only from a window, family at a time when social isolation is the new normal.
Father’s Day is now coming up, and the team at Arbour Square is already putting plans in place to match their Mother’s Day parade, and they are excited and ready to make it happen again. After all, residents and families won’t be expecting anything less.
Experience the small-town atmosphere that makes Arbour Square in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, feel like home. The inviting independent living community is situated on a scenic, 22-acre campus in beautiful Montgomery County and is known for their hospitality and genuine warmth of their team members.
Visit Arbour Square Facebook to see all the wonderful things the community does for its residents and their families.