ROCHELLE – The Rochelle Chamber of Commerce is planning a special drive-thru parade in honor of the many children affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When thinking of those affected by the pandemic and stay-at-home order, many people first think of businesses and adult workers, but forget to think of the effects it has on children. While the effects on children may not be as dire as parents losing their jobs, it is much harder for children to understand the dangers of the virus and importance of social distancing.
“During this time, we are doing things for adults and businesses when this is probably the hardest on kids, because they don’t understand what is going on,” said Tricia Herrera, Rochelle Chamber of Commerce president. “Kids don’t understand why they aren’t going back to school, why they can’t see their friends and why they can’t play at the playground.”
The event will take place on Friday, May 22 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Rochelle Commons parking lot. Attendees can enter from either Route 38 or through the parking lot of the 102.3 Coyote radio station. Cars will funnel in front of Central Bank, drive down one side of the parking lot and back out on Route 38.
As cars drive down the parking lot, many different “sharers” will be handing out gifts for the kids to take home with them. All social distancing and CDC guidelines will be enforced at the event and vehicles will receive a bag and a number that identifies how many children are in the vehicle to limit contact.
The chamber is also encouraging attendees to decorate their cars, as there will be a prize basket for the best decorated vehicle voted on by the chamber board. The main goal of this event is to get the children excited and provide them with gifts to play with at home.
“We have people giving out sunglasses, glow sticks, sidewalk chalk, squirt guns and much more,” said Herrera. “All things that are bright, colorful and would make a child smile. They collect all these items and go home to have summer fun.”
The event is completely free, but anybody that would like to donate to the best decorated prize basket can do so by bringing an item or gift card of $5 or $10 in value. Also, any individual or business that would like to be a sharer at the event can do sign up by contacting Samantha Barkus via email at [email protected]
The only requirements for sharers are they bring enough items to pass out to approximately 500 kids, make sure the items are safe for kids ages 2-12, wear a facemask, use hand sanitizer between vehicles and practice social distancing. If sharers are handing out food, it must be individually wrapped and come from a health department approved business.
Sharers must also contact Barkus no later than Wednesday, May 20, to sign up for the event. The Rochelle Chamber of Commerce is hoping for a great turnout and is excited to support the children in the community.
“There is a lot of pride and caring in our community,” said Herrera. “People are always looking out for their neighbor and we want to support now more than ever, people looking out for the kids.”