Updated May 25, 2020 - 4:32 pm
If not for the 6 feet of space between families at Skye Canyon’s inaugural Patriotic Car Parade on Monday, it would have seemed the same as any other Memorial Day celebration.
Don McLean’s “American Pie” played through a speaker at Skye Canyon Park in the northwest valley while parade participants put the finishing touches on their “floats,” mostly minivans and family vehicles covered in red, white and blue streamers, with a few classic cars and modern Corvettes thrown in.
Women sprayed down their fussing kids and husbands with sunscreen on the sidelines, where families left plenty of space between picnic blankets and enjoyed an hour or so in the sun.
In the age of COVID-19, planners have to get creative when it comes to community events, said Brittany Bolduc, event coordinator for the Skye Canyon master-planned community.
“So we had to figure out a way that we could get the families outdoors while still maintaining social distancing guidelines,” she said.
The parade was the third in a series of “Thrive@Skye” events launched to keep the community connected despite coronavirus concerns.
On Earth Day, families drew chalk portraits on their driveways as part of a community contest, and an annual astronomy event held in the park was livestreamed so residents could follow along from their own yard.
The Memorial Day parade was also an effort to aid the Kline Veterans Fund, one of many local nonprofits that are hurting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Well, we weren’t able to do our poppy drive this year because of social distancing and the climate,” said Stephanie Helms, executive director of the nonprofit. “So instead we did this as an opportunity to get in front of people and hand out some poppies while practicing safety.”
Poppies are commonly associated with Memorial Day and Veterans Day as a symbol of remembrance for service members who died in combat, Helms said. The nonprofit usually exchanges paper poppies for donations on those days.
“And the need now is greater than ever, because there are 145,000 veterans in Las Vegas,” Helms said. “And with our giant unemployment rate due to the crisis, even people who didn’t need our help before may likely need our help in the coming months.”
Helms said coronavirus closures in the spring forced the organization to cancel several events, so the group is seeing less money coming in while more and more people seek help.
“Everyone is in the same boat with trying to serve more people on less money,” Helms said. “So awareness is even much more important today on Memorial Day, certainly to honor the ones that we’ve lost and also think about the ones who are still with us who are suffering and who need help.”
Skye Canyon initially planned to keep the parade private but opened it to the public, allowing locals such as Air Force veteran Doug Smith to participate.
“I thought this would be kind of a cool thing to do,” Smith said. “We live close by, in the neighboring areas, so it made for something nice to do on Memorial Day.”
He brought his 1934 Ford Model A, which was tricked out with an old-fashioned siren and Metropolitan Police Department decals, to serve as one of the dozen or so floats in the caravan.
“I think it’s important that we show solidarity with what’s going on right now and get out and try to get back to normal,” Smith said.
The parade took less than an hour to complete its route around the Skye Canyon neighborhood, and a few residents stuck around afterward for picnics in the park. Before the parade, the community set out signs celebrating this year’s high school graduates who weren’t able to walk so that they could get their own bit of recognition.
“We definitely had to get creative, and so we’re excited about the car parade,” Bolduc said. “We hope to bring it for years to come and make it bigger when we can all come back together.”