In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Airdrie residents are doing what they can to come together while keeping to a safe distance.
As the pandemic continues to isolate residents and news about business closures and the virus’ ongoing spread fills social media news feeds, Airdronians are coming up with creative ways to brighten each other’s day.
“There’s a lot of negativity going on in social media right now, and the only way to get through the uncertainty of how long this is going to be for is to have those positive things and make the best of anything and everything we can,” said Tamara Hiltz, owner of the Heart of the Community Airdrie Market.
To help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Hiltz made an event on the Events in Airdrie and Area Facebook page called the Shamrock Hunt. The event encouraged Airdonians to put a drawing of a shamrock on their windows March 17.
Spotting the shamrocks while on a neighbourhood walk were intended to be a fun way for people to get some fresh air while still practicing social distancing.
“I actually saw it in a different city’s events page, so I thought of making one for Airdrie so [residents] could enjoy going out and looking for shamrocks,” she said. “I created the event, invited as many people as I could and shared it wherever I thought would be OK.”
Now, a series of “neighbourhood window walks” will take place in Airdrie – and other cities throughout Canada – every third day, from March 20 until April 4. Every event has a particular theme – the March 26 event, for instance, will feature flowers.
Some of the days have holiday-appropriate themes, such on April Fool's Day when residents are encouraged to put jokes in their window and the April 4 event that will see drawings of Easter eggs displayed.
Wingsong Heights School's Kindness Ninjas are also getting in on the fun. Students in Allison Apels kindergarten class connected via an online app to create and display cheerful rainbows as part of the #chasetherainbow movement.
City Coun. Tina Petrow is another resident trying to make the best of the situation by donning a pink unicorn costume to help spread cheer.
“I saw a video clip of a guy on YouTube wearing a costume while snow-blowing and I got a great laugh out of it, so figured other people would, too,” she said.
“I think people love it. I’ve been watching some of the comments on Facebook, and even the honks you get when walking down the road and people waving. I think it brightens the kids’ days, as well as the adults.’”
Worldwide, examples of community kindness and solidarity have been a hallmark of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many videos of quarantined residents in Europe, playing instruments together from their balconies, have gone viral.
Others, meanwhile, have offered to purchase and deliver groceries for those who are unable to venture from their homes.
“I think everyone is looking for something positive right now, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a pink unicorn or something else – they’re just looking for something positive and cheerful,” Petrow said. “Those kinds of things show what our community is really made of, so I encourage people to keep doing the little things.”
At the provincial level, Alberta’s chief medical officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, encouraged people to share acts of kindness and positive stories they have witnessed, using the #AlbertaCares hashtag on social media.
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