MESA, AZ — Concerns surrounding COVID-19 are forcing many organizations to reimagine their holiday celebrations this year.
In Mesa on Saturday a unique event set out to raise spirits while also raising awareness.
The sights and sounds you would expect at a Christmas celebration capped off a year marred by the unexpected outside Oakwood Creative Care in Mesa.
The day center serves seniors with Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia and other age-related challenges.
"My dad, Richard, he's 95 years old, he's been coming here for over a year," said Pam Carmony. "We really appreciate that they were able to do this in a very creative way, and just have us celebrate together."
"My husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease nine years ago," said Patricia Lyson. "They make him feel very important, very needed, very useful, which is important for all of us, we all want to feel needed and useful."
Saturday's "Dementia-Friendly" drive-thru event featured appearances by the Grinch, Santa and Mrs. Claus, carolers and others. Visitors were treated to hot chocolate, presents, photo ops and more. Many of the families in attendance have been hit particularly hard by the service restrictions and isolation resulting from the pandemic.
"We wanted to create an experience for them that would spark joy, conversation and allow for them to be able to get out of their house," said Sherri Friend, CEO of Oakwood Creative Care.
The event served as a reminder of those in our communities still working to bring people together despite the distance.
"We need each other now more than ever," said Friend. "We have to find creative ways in order to be together and engaged, and make sure our spirits are connected and happy."
The celebration comes six months after the City of Mesa was named a "Dementia-Friendly City." The Chamber of Commerce now offers trainings to help businesses become more dementia-friendly. Click here for more information.