I love you mama!

I’ve missed you so much!

Can he keep the balloons?

Those were just a few of the heart wrenching statements shouted from car windows while family members and community supporters paraded past Haborview Health Systems-Pierce where dedicated staff members wheeled residents out to the parking lot last Thursday afternoon, June 18, for their first interaction with folks outside of the nursing facility in months.

Hundreds of well-wishers participated in the 30-minute parade waving signs, clappers and balloons, blowing bubbles and cheering as they drove slowly through the parking lot.

The heat was sweltering and many residents sat sheltered by umbrellas attached to their wheelchairs. They also held signs expressing their love for family members as they craned their necks for that first glimpse of their loved ones. Ninety-nine-year-old COVID-19 survivor Mabel Gates was among those waiting to see her family.

Face masks couldn’t hide their smiles and their faces glowed at the sight of children and grandchildren they hadn’t seen in months. A few tears were shed, but mostly peals of laughter echoed from the parking lot.