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coping with covid 600pxBy Barb Zanetti
Photos by Dennis Zanetti

Alamo Rec-Veh Park (ARVP) residents have an answer to what many Winter Texans can do to thrive on long, isolating, Covid-restricted evenings.

Their solution is a golf cart parade, a follow-the-changing-leader activity that awakens this 55-plus community with 18 minutes of early evening music, laughter, waving and comradery.

“The golf cart parade brings people together, and it is fun,” park manager Barbara Hamel said. “It’s a joy to see the excitement of people eager to be part of this parade. And it’s great that people want this activity.”

The event is special for Debbie and Leonard Fulk. After they talked about their experience at a Branson RV park’s nightly golf-cart gathering, the couple was delighted when ARVP residents transformed that idea into a parade.

As a result, from Tuesday through Friday, golf carts line up on 9th Street. Meanwhile, spectators choose their viewing spots, grab their drinks, and relax waiting for lively music, twinkling lights on golf carts and enthusiastic paraders.

Homebound residents pull up their shades. Some sit at their kitchen tables, while others relax in their living room recliners waiting for their friends and neighbors to “zoom” past their windows.

A few minutes before 7 p.m. on any parade night, a resident attaches a speaker to the back of a golf cart. This is a signal that everyone wanting to be part of the parade should get ready to roll.

Along with headlights, the paraders’ decorative roof, windshield and/or bumper lights are switched on. Meanwhile, another resident fastens a small speaker to his cart to become tonight’s “caboose.”

By 7:01 p.m. the paraders are well on their way.coping with covid

Eight minutes later, the golf carts have woven their way down all of the park’s east side streets and crossed to the west side of the lake. There they are greeted by another group of spectators’ cheers and applause.

For four evenings a week, the golf cart parade promises that everyone who chooses to participate or to watch can feel they are an important part of an active and fun-loving Winter Texan community.

Parade watchers and participants say the activity is exciting.

“Seeing the enthusiasm of all participants, cart owners, and spectators” is what Jim and Dorothy Miller love about the golf cart parade. They said that it is a bonus that the paraders “provide added levels of park security.”

The parade offers something for almost everyone.

Ginger Baker said she loves the event because it “shows that friendly, caring people live here.”

Occasional parade golf carters, Martha and Gary Morin said they are amazed at the large number of residents who wait for the parade. The couple loves that they see so many residents “cheering, clapping, dancing and thanking paraders.”

Considering the healing value of the activity, Martha, an RN, said, “We need every chance to fight the depression and boredom caused by age, isolation and this pandemic.”

Many agree.

“The nightly parade gives us hope of returning to normalcy,” Gary and Jan Ronfeldt said. “We’ve been shut in for months. It’s a joyful noise in an arena of ‘Bah Humbug’.”

Appreciating that almost everyone is having a good time, Evie Brecksler said, “We need a little joy with all the bad things in the world now.”

At 7:18 p.m. the music fades. Golf carters turn homeward knowing that for many… they have replaced loneliness with a sense of belonging.