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Waves and smiles: Vehicle parade connects Jacobetti residents with families, friends and community

A Marquette Police Department cruiser leads a charge of vehicles with eager families, friends and community members behind the wheels during a car parade for residents at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans on Wednesday afternoon. (Journal photo by Ryan Spitza)

MARQUETTE — The D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans held its third vehicle parade of the summer for residents on Wednesday afternoon.

Family, friends –and those who just wanted to flat out join in on the fun and salute the vets — adorned their vehicles with signs, party streamers and any other decorative item they could think of before cruising by the veterans home on Fisher Street. They offered waves, smiles and joy for everyone in a time when those three things are needed the most.

Drive-by participants began the lineup in the St. Peter’s Cathedral parking lot before heading west on Baraga Avenue and making their way toward Jacobetti.

“This was our third parade but just the second solely for our home,” said Shari Smith, activities coordinator for D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans. “We also did a Fourth of July parade in correlation with Norlite (Nursing Center). That was a much bigger parade, and this one is just friends, family and volunteers. No ambulance or firetrucks this time, just very simple. Everyone’s got their cars decorated and made signs and it’s great.”

While window visits have been a necessary form of connection between residents and their loved ones, they don’t always do the trick. Not only are they emotional for families, but can also be challenging to coordinate for staff.

Residents of the D.J. Jaccobetti Home for Veterans lined the sidewalk on Fisher Street for a vehicle parade on Wednesday afternoon. Family, friends and community members lined up at St. PeterÕs Cathedral before making their way toward the home. (Journal photo by Ryan Spitza)

“We do window visits, but those can be hard to coordinate with work schedules, our schedule and the member’s schedules too,” Smith said. “We’ve got to figure out how to combine all of that. With a parade, they’

re outside. It’s drive on by and ‘hey, how ya doing?’ so it’s exciting.”

With COVID-19 canceling many care facilities’ normal activities, parades are just about the best thing that’s possible right now. Despite the summer winding down, Smith won’t rule another parade out in the near future.

“If the weather keeps holding out, we’ll try for another one,” she said. “They’re excited, they get excited about the older cars driving by too. We’ve had to replace the car shows we normally have, and all of the other events that we normally hold have been cancelled. This is the big thing we’re allowed to do, and it’s about trying to find a way to follow all of the rules and bring these activities to our residents.”

Not only do families miss their loved ones in care facilities across the country, but the staff at Jacobetti also misses seeing everyone who used to stop by on a regular basis.

“I just want people to know how supportive our friends, family and volunteers are and how appreciative we are of them,” Smith said. “We miss them a lot here and trying to replace those people is hard.”

Residents at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans were treated to a vehicle parade on Wednesday afternoon. Family, friends and community members lined up at St. PeterÕs Cathedral before making their way toward Fisher Street to share waves, smiles and joy with the residents. (Journal photo by Ryan Spitza)

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is rspitza@miningjournal.net.

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