Though it was far from a typical Halloween, Tina Lopez still found a way to get the residents of Parkview Julian Convalescent involved in the holiday festivities.
Lopez, an administrator at the nursing home, would generally spend the day with residents as they passed out candy to visiting children, an activity not allowed this season due to COVID-19 restrictions.
To try to fill the holiday void, patients at Parkview and several other nursing homes were placed on the route of a costume parade organized by Tonya Abbott and Matt Flannigan on Saturday.
"I said, let's do something," said Flannigan, a registered nurse who generally throws Christmas parties at area nursing homes. "I just wanted to do something."
The result was a parade consisting of roughly three dozen costumed participants. The day began at Parkview before extending to the Kingston Healthcare Center, San Joaquin Nursing and the Orchard Post Acute Care, where the event wrapped up in the afternoon.
During each visit, costumed paradegoers would interact with patients who were wheeled outside in costumes of their own. On the day's first stop, volunteers and nursing home staff passed out doughnuts and hot chocolate to patients. Once they got to San Joaquin, all parties were treated to a taco bar.
Masks were required for attendees, who were not allowed inside any of the centers.
With coronavirus outbreaks particularly damaging at nursing homes since the start of the pandemic, Abbott describe the life of patients as "the epitome of isolation" and believe events like the one held Saturday are critical to improving morale.
"We just wanted to bring some joy, be able to say hello," said Abbott, who also serves as the director of advancement at Garces Memorial High School. "Anything we can do for them to have fun and be silly, that’s why we’re here. Anything we can do for them they really appreciate.”
The efforts were also appreciated by Lopez, who says staffers spent a good part of the previous week helping patients pick out their costumes to try and give their altered celebration the feel of a typical Halloween party.
"I know the residents definitely enjoy dressing up, the staff enjoys dressing up," Lopez said. "You can at least feel some of that festivity of the holidays despite COVID and all the restrictions we have."