Story by Kristina Hoti
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Warwick families received some holiday cheer during Easter weekend on Sat., Apr. 11 and Sun., Apr. 12. Due to the need for social distancing, visits to the Easter bunny for children this year were out of the question.
However, Carmela Borrazas, Nicole McCormick, and Kristina Hoti, of Hugs for Courage (HFC,) along with Warwick Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #4662 Commander John MacDonald, took matters into their own hands and spread “Easter Cheer” throughout the Town of Warwick.
Wearing the Easter Bunny suit, was Warwick EMS Shea Patterson, a sophomore at Burke Catholic High School. LaViano Jewelers of Westwood allowed use of their premises at 10 Colonial Ave. in Warwick, for set-up and decoration of the entourage.
Thanks to the loan of a bright blue Jeep, courtesy of Leo Kaytes Ford, the Easter Bunny was on full display for the children as he passed through neighborhoods.
VFW Post Commander MacDonald provided a presentation of the American, VFW, and American Legion flags, those of all local first responders, and Hugs for Courage banners donated by Track 7 Postal Center. The caravan toured through Warwick, sending curbside Easter greetings.
Hugs for Courage reached out to the community via Facebook earlier in the week, allowing Warwick parents the option to request a drive-by to their house. Using a mapping application to route all of the addresses, the Bunny’s small parade of decorated vehicles played music and streamed live on Facebook throughout the day, so that parents would know when Easter Bunny was on his way.
Parents were encouraged to have their children decorate signs thanking hospital workers, first responders, and all essential workers, so that they could share their appreciation through the power of social media.
As the vehicles passed through neighborhoods, overjoyed children waved and cheered, and people of all ages came out of their houses wearing huge smiles. Some people were moved to tears, as this simple expression of love and cheer passed through their neighborhood, juxtaposed with the last month of isolation and anxiety which has accompanied the COVID-19 threat.
The small parade traveled throughout Warwick for eight hours, sustained by a generous donation of lunch and snacks provided by Eileen Patterson of Track 7 Postal Center. Even so, not all families hoping for a visit could be reached.
Not to disappoint, Easter Bunny, with the help of McCormick, gave an interview in the afternoon on Easter Sunday, via Facebook live. Children who may have missed him on Saturday were able to see him and ask questions which he answered by writing on a chalk board.
Children asked questions such as, “Where do you live?,” “Have you ever been caught leaving eggs?,” and “Is it true that bunnies sleep with their eyes open?”
Hugs for Courage rounded out their spreading of Easter Cheer from a distance on Sunday, by sending baskets of goodies to seniors living at Liberty Green.
Any local residents or businesses wishing to sponsor Hugs for Courage in their efforts to raise money for a local center for VFW Post #4662 to be used by veterans and first responders, can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.facebook.com/HugsforCourage for more information.