GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- Its been almost two months since residents at one of Gainesville's long-term care and rehabilitation centers have seen their families in person…until today. We'll show you how a small parade at Orchid Cove led to big smiles radiating past the masks.
Orchid Cove in Gainesville has not allowed visitors for 8 weeks, and while residents do get to see their families over the phone it's not the same.
Gemekia Ross is the Social Service Director at Orchid Cove who said, "it's very hard for them to just see them on a video camera or talk to them on the phone so that's why we did the parade of love. So the loved ones can be able to pass by and see their loved ones and let them know they're still here and they haven't left or forgotten them."
Ronald McCarthy came from Leesburg to see his son and he said, "We came out because we wanted to have this celebration with him its been like 8 weeks since we've been able to see him. Once they cut it off nobody could come in unless you work here or are a nurse or doctor."
Larry Limbaugh is the Chaplain at Orchid Cove who added, "man the ecstatic joy of the two together once the residents came in contact with their families it was like an explosion of joy it was great."
Ronald and Arlene McCarthy say it's been tough on them as parents because before COVID-19 they would visit their son Stacey multiple times a week.
Arlene McCarthy said, "I'm so glad they were able to put this together. I first thought this was a waste of time I thought I can't see or touch him, and touch is part of it. That's hard to see him but not touch him but at the same time I'm so grateful I was able to do that today."
Orchid Cove employees like Limbaugh say even after the parade was finished you could feel the excitement still lingering inside the building.
"I saw one I went back inside the building who was just bubbling, sitting in the chair just bubbling because her mom was here today, a mom she hasn't seen in over a month."
Only one-third of the residents were brought out for this parade of love. Chaplain Limbaugh says it was a type of trial run but they'll hold another for the rest of the residents and families in the next few weeks.