The Coast News Group
Honks for Hugs
Seniors lined the parking lot May 2 to participate in the “Honks for Hugs” at the Las Villas de Carlsbad to wave to friends and family. Photo by Steve Puterski

Seniors take center stage with ‘Honks for Hugs’

CARLSBAD — Dozens of cars filled with friends and family paraded through Las Villas de Carlsbad over the weekend to show support and love for seniors isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friends and family decorated their cars, brought their dogs and waved to their loved ones who were in front of the facility or on their balconies for the “Honks for Hugs” at Las Villas de Carlsbad on May 2. For many, it was the first time to see their loved ones in person, even at a distance, for weeks.

Charles Bloom, executive director of Las Villas de Carlsbad, said the response was great, noting cars lined up down Laguna Drive and wrapped around to Jefferson Street.

“It started with just an idea for outreach and it kept blossoming as more and more families took to the idea,” he added. “It ended with a line about one-quarter mile deep. It was beautiful. It was humanity. It was a chance to be human again.”

Sunee Nelson and her family, which consists of her husband and two children, came to visit her grandmother, Lela Carlton. Nelson said the past several months have been tough on her grandmother. Aside from the coronavirus outbreak, Carlton’s husband of 40 years passed away in February.

Still, the family is able to walk up to her room and talk through windows with their beloved matriarch. The family also uses FaceTime to see and speak with Carlton and uses those opportunities to keep her spirits high.

Honks for Hugs
Dozens of cars lined Laguna Drive on May 2 to participate in the “Honks for Hugs” at the Las Villas de Carlsbad senior community. Seniors lined the parking lot and their balconies to wave to friends and family. Photo by Steve Puterski

“We made a sign to cheer up grandma because she feels very lonely and is kind of stuck,” Nelson said. “It’s fun to make everyone here feel special, like we know that they’re still here and we love them.”

Many of the residents were able to come outside, line up and watch as the parade of vehicles, including a fire engine and ambulance from the Carlsbad Fire Department, slowly rolled through the parking lot and then along the back of the property.

Other residents sat on their balconies with signs and waved to all those who took time to come by to show their love and support.

Getting outside and socializing, even from a distance, made it a much more intimate event, Bloom said.

“It was probably why we had such a beautiful event,” he added. “The residents were able to socialize. We were able to use the entire campus, stretch people out and interact. The synergy was what we felt more than anything else. I think it’s a human condition to be with other people.”