When L’Arche Cleveland first made the decision to limit social gatherings due to COVID19, we weren’t sure how long it would last. We knew limiting exposure was for the better, but it was hard not knowing when we could have gatherings again. For the first couple months, we stuck to Zoom prayer nights, and FaceTime calls. We were hoping that we would be able to see each other in person soon. It became pretty obvious as time went on that this new way of life was quickly becoming the new normal.
On June 7th, we finally decided that it was time to move on from computer screens and take to the streets… with a Birthday Parade. We wanted to do something different to celebrate and still be able to keep the community safe. Our first parade was for Gloria’s 81st birthday. Cars met around the corner from Gloria’s house to decorate and line up. Core Members and Assistants waved and smiled at each other from their seats. The parade started and circled the block twice to honk, wave and shout hello. Gloria happily watched as her friends drove past, sending their birthday wishes from afar.
A New Tradition
Gloria’s birthday began the COVID tradition of birthday parade. Since then, we’ve had several parades, all with the same joy and excitement found in Gloria’s. Pat’s birthday parade was next on the list. Pat was happy to see his friends from the porch, and even passed out cake to everyone who drove past. Lisa decided to have a smaller birthday celebration with takeout from Olive Garden. She wanted to see the community for her anniversary and had an anniversary parade. Of course, there’s always an excuse for treats, so Lisa passed out goodie bags to everyone as they passed.
LaQuesha decided to break the mold and chose to celebrate her anniversary in a new way – with a dance party! We scheduled the Zoom meeting and took down song requests. The top picks were The Macarena, anything Michael Jackson, and of course, The Chicken Dance! Everyone got a chance to make requests once the party started, and we all loved seeing everyone’s unique dance moves. We closed the party with a special song, Lean on Me in honor of LaQuesha.
With each celebration, we’ve been reminded that it’s important to have fun. Every day, the Core Members show us that there can be joy in anything and everything in L’Arche. Even though not at all typical, we’ve come to love our drive-by parties and what they symbolize: joy, love, and celebration.