NEW HAVEN – Bob Boyd looked content Saturday afternoon as he sat on his Honda Goldwing motorcycle decked out with teddy bears in the parking lot of the old Meadowbrook Elementary School in New Haven.
Boyd, who collects the bears with wife Nancy, was waiting for the signal to rev up and slowly parade with about 30 other decorated vehicles in an impromptu ride through the streets of the Meadowbrook neighborhood off Moeller Road.
Stacey McDaniel, Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association president, hatched the idea after she saw a Facebook post of a school teacher who drove through her students' neighborhoods to say hello from her car.
“She was kind of saying 'hi' and 'I miss you,' and I thought, well, why not kick it up a notch and do a parade?” McDaniel said. Other folks in the neighborhood of nearly 800 homes liked the idea.
Her mother, Sandy Bennett, also a neighborhood resident, drove in the parade with her van decorated with a Peanuts theme – Snoopy, Charlie Brown and others – and brought her daughter, Amy Klinker, along in the passenger seat.
“I think it's awesome she's doing this,” Klinker said. “Bringing the community together, that's awesome.”
Everyone participating in the parade practiced social distancing, the habit of staying 6 feet away from each other to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael, who served as the parade's grand marshal, made a proclamation calling for a “special eggs-emption” authorizing the Easter Bunny, aka Kent Hills, “to travel freely through the City of New Haven for the essential service of egg delivery.”
Hills said he happened to have an Easter Bunny suit because it's one of his roles at his church, New Haven United Methodist, and he was happy to wear it Saturday after the mayor asked him.
People in the neighborhood are close and some, like McDaniel, have lived there all their lives, said McDaniel, who works part time in the floral department at the New Haven Kroger store.
“We're family,” McDaniel said. “When times are tough, we just rally. We have a lot of kids who live in the neighborhood, a lot of elderly. (We wanted to) break up the monotony of the news and just do something fun.”
McMichael, who enlisted police and fire to join the parade, called McDaniel a “great community leader.”
“They (the kids) can't go see grandma and grandpa. They can't go to school. We're going to add a little normalcy,” McMichael said.
Boyd said he was sick of sitting at home and was pretty sure the kids were going crazy.
“We'll be doing it (the parade) for the kids so we're kind of killing two birds with one stone,” Boyd said.