Automobile nostalgia: EWCS hosts classic car parade event for seniors

ERIN – East Wellington Community Services (EWCS) hosted a classic car parade outside the Erin Centre 2000, with COVID-19 protocols in place, in hopes of bringing members from their senior program down memory lane.

Car horns, mixed with cheers could be heard as drivers honked and seniors raised homemade flags at passing cars.

The event was held on June 15 as part of the EWCS Adult Day Program, a program where older adults can socialize and take part in activities.

The program runs Monday to Thursday, 10am to 3pm, out of the Erin Centre 2000.

Cars twice paraded past participants outside the centre through the parking lot.

Six program participants sat spaced out front the centre entrance to view the event, held as part of Father’s Day celebrations.

Adult Day Program facilitator Diana Johnston said pre-pandemic, EWCS would normally have 18 seniors in their daily program, but due to space limitations and social distancing protocols, they’re only able to host six seniors at a time.

“We had six seniors, six feet apart because of COVID, and we made some homemade signs to say thank you and our seniors came out and enjoyed some fresh air, a good breeze and a trip down memory lane,” Johnston said.

This was the first year of the drive by parade event for EWCS and the first time the program had done an event like this since before the pandemic.

EWCS chief executive officer Kari Simpson said they were trying to think of something different to do for the program with COVID-19, because they can’t get out much with seniors.

The idea struck Johnston when she heard two of the individuals who attend the program talking about their love for cars.

Living in the community, she’s seen quite a few older style and model cars, she added.

“So, we thought we’d reach out to the community and it would be a nice thing for the community to join in and get to know us a little bit,” Johnston explained.

EWCS reached out over Facebook looking for people in the community with classic cars to volunteer their time for the event.

“Luckily enough we were able to have quite a few community members be open minded and willing to give up their time today to join us,” she said.

Ten drivers met in the Erin Legion parking lot with their cars before heading over to the centre at 11am for the event.

“They were all smiles, you could see… they were smiling with their eyes. Everybody was friendly. When they drove by and you asked what year it was, they were friendly to tell you what it was. It’s just a nice thing to be able to share their pride and joy,” Johnston said.

The goal of the event, she said, was to bring the community and the program together.

“But also, to bring back memories,” she added.

“Older memories from our seniors of times gone by and to rehash past memories of times with cars, learning how to drive, what their first car was. Maybe they had seen their dad working on a car and they learned a few things.

“Some of the gentlemen are car fanatics and enjoy different types of cars so it brought back good memories.

“I’m hoping that when we go back in and have our lunch that it’s the topic of the day, that people are reminiscing and recalling and talking about what they saw today and hopefully that it made them have a happy day, a happy morning at least.”

Members from the program also had the opportunity to visit some of the cars up close after the parade, masked and following COVID-19 protocols.

Johnson said having the ability to get close to some of the older cars and be able to chat with their owners was another part of engaging the community they were hoping to create from the event.

EWCS Adult Day Program

For over 25 years, the Adult Day Program has been running in different forms, supporting seniors within the community. Different clients attend each day, and some clients attend twice a week.

The program provides different types of activities addressing different levels of cognition along with word games, card games and discussions.

It offers a transportation service that will pick seniors up at their homes and bring them to the centre where they’ll start off their day with a morning snack before participating in different activities and programs.

From there, they’ll have lunch together and participate in a half hour exercise program in the afternoon to improve balance and fall prevention before taking part in more activities in the afternoon.

One of the Adult Day Program clients told the Advertiser, “I’ve really enjoyed the people. I like to call them friends.”

“Seniors get to be listened to and heard, is really what happens,” Johnston said. “So, when they come here, they feel respected and loved and heard as well.

“We hope everyone goes home with smile.”