‘Christmas in the Parking Lot’ lifts South Bay seniors’ spirits

The pandemic has been especially difficult for seniors in retirement homes and assisted living facilities who often feel alone and isolated. On Tuesday, some seniors in the South Bay received a holiday treat to help lift their spirits.

Senior residents and their families came together for an outdoor holiday event at the Bridgepoint Senior Living Community in Los Altos.

“It feels a little early for me but everyone was very much in the spirit,” said Carolyn Biglow of Los Altos.

Senior residents and their families enjoyed “Christmas in the Parking Lot” and called it a much needed escape.

“This is one of the first times they had an opportunity to gather like this,” said Joanne Marent of Los Altos.

“It’s been lots of fun, music, trivia, contests, and treats,” said Ellen Bowen of Santa Rosa. “It's a nice distraction from the serious stuff in life.”

Staff members dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Residents ate popcorn and churros. The night culminated with the lighting of the trees.

“I talked to a lot of the family members and they were just really excited,” said Bridgepoint Executive Director Maria Quintero. “They were able to come out and participate in an event where we can keep them all safe and be with their loved one.”

Families wore masks and socially distanced. The event is typically indoors. The outdoor event is more meaningful this year.

Early on in the pandemic, residents were quarantined, unable to eat together or see their families for months.

“When I was quarantined that wasn't much fun but we weathered through it,” said Ruth Rossow of Los Altos.

Outdoor and indoor visits in common areas are now allowed, thanks to weekly Covid-19 testing for residents and staff. Results are available in 24 hours. A similar method is used by professional sports teams.

So far, no resident has tested positive for Covid. A staff member did three weeks ago. Testing detected it fast. The virus didn’t spread.

“None of us expected to be quarantined for so long when we found out about the pandemic and as time has gone on, it's been really hard not to despair,” said Bowen.

This holiday, new memories are being made and for many, it’s a time to reflect on what really matters.

“I think it's wonderful,” said Rossow. “I think everyone was so happy.”

“Being able to see my mom in an event like this is really the best kind of Christmas present that I could get,” said Bowen.

Bridgepoint hopes to continue the holiday spirt. Residents will have the opportunity to take pictures with Santa in the parking lot later in the month.