Love a Parade

More than 20 residents in their golf carts at Colony in the Woods in Port Orange get together to drive around the neighborhood banging pots and pans, shouting and more to bring smiles to the residents during the pandemic on Thursday, May 7.

Colony in the Wood at 4000 S. Clyde Morris Blvd. in Port Orange is an active 55-plus mobile home community.

The active part was evident as a growing number of residents are gathering in their golf carts and traversing the entire community at 6:30 p.m. each Thursday in an organized golf cart parade. The goal is simply to make some noise and spread some cheer to fellow residents.

Neal Collier leads the parade each week with wife Elaine accompanying him. He said Nancy Rebstock came up with the idea in late April.

“I led the parade only because I used to work for the park,” Mr. Collier said. “I told them there is a certain way you have to go around these roads to make sure you pass every house. That was something a lot of people don’t realize because we have circles and we have cul-de-sacs. There’s a certain way that you have to circle the park. We started out with 13 carts the first time and we graduated to 18 the second time. We were hoping to get more than 18 tonight. (They had 21).

“The reason we’re doing this is we’re all bored. We’re retired people and now, with this virus going on, we’re not able to go out and do the things we normally do,” he said. “Nancy came up with the (golf cart parade) idea and we put it on the park (social media) page and everybody just started showing up.

“Residents love it. There are certain parts of the park you’ll see a whole line of chairs out there. They’re waiting for us to come,” Mr. Collier said. “It’s just something for us to do, it’s fun. We all have a good time. I assume we’ll do it every week until everything’s lifted for the virus.”

It takes about 45 minutes to complete the route. If you went in and out of every street it’s about five miles and, he said, “we drive slow.”

Annemarie Cronin, who also drives a golf cart in the weekly parade, said, “The past months have been extremely difficult for everybody. This is a very close-knit community, everybody is friendly, we all have tons of activities all the time. We socialize all the time. We have missed each other so much and we’re all getting down and depressed. We just started this a couple of weeks ago and it just grew and grew and grew. Everybody looks forward to it now. They come out of their houses; we get to see each other and just have a little fun. It’s a great way to raise morale.”

Mary Krawczyk, also driving in the parade, was all dressed up as an alien.

Ms. Krawczyk said she did it to “get out and support the people that can’t get out (along with) our home care workers, nurses. Give them support saying we’re with them.”

She said everyone enjoys the parade because everybody has gone “stir crazy.”

Kevin and Brenda Batzel have driven a cart in the parade, but loaned it out and watched the most recent one from their lawn.

Ms. Batzel said, “It’s fun, some people get out banging their pots and pans. Some are in the windows waving and just appreciate the good time. It’s a great community to live in. It helps everybody’s mental attitude right now with what’s going on.”

Shirl Petruzzi is one resident who loves watching the parade, and for the May 7 one, she played patriotic music and put out snacks for the participants, and a sign thanking them.

“We’re all shut in here. There’s a lot of older folks here, they don’t get out,” Ms. Petruzzi said. “With the pandemic going on, nobody is going anywhere, nobody is doing anything. I think a lot of them felt rejected and alone, a lot of single people in here, too. So, somebody got the brainy idea let’s just ride around and cheer people up. And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing. They go to every nook and cranny so everybody gets to see them.”

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