With social distancing putting public events to a halt and the most susceptible community – seniors – left without much chance for interaction or entertainment to pass the time – Murrayville’s Avalon Gardens Senior Living complex decided to “shake off the isolation blues” with a courtyard concert.
The local band Garth and the Guys spread out around Avalon’s central fountain where they blasted live rockabilly tunes for listeners taking in the show from their balconies.
Anita Tito Wormald, general manager of Avalon Gardens, said the idea of a serenade came from a staff member who took inspiration from what was being done in Italy.
“Trudy Agawin, our house supervisor, said she saw videos of serenades happening in Italy where musicians performed for audiences from courtyards,” Tito Wormald explained. “We’re down to essential services only, which plummeted the rest of our services – meaning you can’t bring in entertainers. We have a fitting layout and music really does help to calm fears and anxiety.”
Bill Buurmeester, owner and operator of Porter’s Coffee & Tea House, had to close the doors of his establishment to slow coronavirus spreading, a place that offers weekly concerts and musical performances.
After getting in contact, Tito Wormald said Buurmeester immediately jumped on board and rounded up Garth and the Guys as she set off to make posters and invitations to let her residents know.
The balcony serenade started at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, a time Tito Wormald said was meant for folks to get some fresh air, positive vibes, warm feelings, and even a chance to enjoy the beautiful weather.
While some passerby’s’s and even residents stood on ground level to get a glimpse of the show, RN Jame Thompson ran around with a six foot pole to appropriately space people apart.
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Pastor Bob Cottrill was additionally on hand to say a prayer for a hopeful future at the end of the show.
“Our hope is that people will have time to offer up musical skills for more courtyard entertainment,” Tito Wormald. “Everything changes – it’s a yes today but an overnight decision might change everything.”
Much of the early setlist consisted of Elvis tunes, which caused many of the elderly crowd members to toe tap and dance around – still maintaining distance – but with a connection with their fellow neighbours and big smiles on their faces.
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