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Dartmouth group home residents celebrate Natal Day in ‘reverse’

The residents of the Hilton Drive Group Home in Dartmouth celebrate Natal Day with a 'Reverse Parade' featuring a stationary float on their front lawn, Aug. 3, 2020.
The residents of the Hilton Drive Group Home in Dartmouth celebrate Natal Day with a 'Reverse Parade' featuring a stationary float on their front lawn, Aug. 3, 2020. Elizabeth McSheffrey/Global News

A global pandemic couldn’t stop the Hilton Drive Group Home in Dartmouth from celebrating Natal Day, with a special twist.

On Monday, its residents invited members of the public to swing by their street and honk their horns for their “Reverse Parade”, featuring a stationary float made of signs and flags posted to their balcony and front lawn.

Many of the signs thanked front-line health-workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang.

“Normally at a parade everybody gathers on the side of the road and watches the floats pass by, but this year, since that’s not possible, we’re a stationary float and we asked our friends and family to drive by, beep and honk and have some fun,” said John Brownlow, of the Regional Residential Serves Society, who helped organize the event.

READ MORE: What’s open and closed for Natal Day in Halifax

The home’s residents are part of a group called “Better Together”, which began during Canada 150 celebrations in 2017, with a challenge to perform 150 acts of kindness. Brownlow said the group never stopped after that, and is now a regular presence at food banks, churches and the annual Natal Day Parade in Halifax.

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“They do all kinds of different activities in the community, just trying to give back because we feel like we have so much,” he explained.

“Our house is our float!” said Better Together member and home resident Luke Elwood, who helped choose and assemble the decorations.

READ MORE: Social enterprise and Salvation Army bring beehives to Halifax’s Uniacke Square

Several dozen community members stopped by Hilton Drive to celebrate Natal Day, the public holiday that commemorates Nova Scotia’s history.

They honked horns and blew bubbles — one van’s occupants even tossed candy, in keeping with the “reverse” theme, since the Better Together members usually toss candy at the crowds from their float at the Natal Day Parade.

“It’s awesome!” said neighbour Terri Lower. “Having Natal Day not normal this year, it’s great that they were able to kind of create a float on their house, if you would, and we get to participate and have fun with them.”