Kermit the Frog himself sang about finding the “rainbow connection” someday. Folks found that connection in Abington.
With the COVID-19 sweeping across the nation, people have been quickly thrust into a schedule of increased time spent at home and social distancing practices. Parents especially are finding it hard to keep their children busy throughout the days. However, a post on Facebook changed that for a bit. It was an idea of a town wide “Rainbow Hunt” that would give the community of all ages a great way to connect with each other. It was a way to make social distancing fun.
The idea sprouted mid-March after news of the cancellation of Abington’s 41st Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the closing of schools. Life, as folks knew it, would be rapidly changing in an effort to keep everyone safe.
To try and preserve the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, Jack Bailey — St. Patrick himself — did ride the parade route as usual after someone bet him $40 that the 40-plus year tradition would not continue. Following that, Abington Celebrates hosted an Abington Virtual Parade online, where folks were asked to post their parade photos of years past. On St. Patrick’s Day, there was a small town wide shamrock hunt. Residents eagerly hung crafted shamrocks on their front windows to give parents a chance to get outside with their kids and search for shamrocks.
Annie Messia saw a social media post from a friend on Martha’s Vineyard about making and hanging rainbows at home. She promoted the idea on the Beaver Brook Elementary School PTO Facebook page, and with an assist from Danielle Grafton, a member of the Abington School Committee, it grew into a townwide rainbow hunt.
“Abington is fairly small and I figured if we could get the word out there enough, lots of families would be happy to make rainbows to hang in their windows,” said Messia. “It was something that could bring a light to a scary time.”
By the time the hunt launched last Friday, more than 250 homes located on over 150 local streets had signed up to make rainbows.
“It was amazing,” said Messia, who walked around different Abington neighborhoods with her two children looking for all the rainbows. “So many families participated. It exceeded expectations.”
Abington residents, Judy O’Bryan, along with her daughter, Cindy Ahern and children, Noah, 9, and Molly, 6, were very excited about the Rainbow Hunt project.
“I loved the idea from the start. I love how this town embraces ideas to unify the town and build a positive atmosphere, especially for our children during this difficult time,” said O’Bryan.
“It was great to sit down as a family to make our rainbows and hearts for our front door. We all talked about how the rainbows are there to show happiness, love, and support to people when they may be feeling alone or sad,” said Ahern. “The kids also loved that the hearts were out to represent a thank you to everyone out there helping right now. Positive activities like this are so important in times like these.”
“It felt good to make the rainbows because it shows kindness to everyone and for the hearts to show kindness to those working to help others,” added Noah.
“It’s so confusing for them because everyone’s emotions are all over the place and their schedules got interrupted so quickly,” added O’Bryan. “I love that people got involved in the virtual parade which then blossomed into a shamrock hunt which evolved into a rainbow hunt that then included hearts for those on the frontlines dealing with this virus.”
“This rainbow hunt gave us a chance to escape and offered an opportunity to safely entertain our children as well as brighten the lives that drive by,” said O’Bryan. “Making rainbows was a fun family activity too. As for me, I love displaying the rainbows as a sign of hope and promise that we will get through this storm.”
~ By Michele Christian
(DISCLOSURE: The author is a member of the Abington Celebrates committee)