ST. GEORGE — Jeepers gathered Friday evening at Dixie 4 Wheel Drive in St. George for a vehicle decorating contest and to parade past four local senior homes to spread Christmas cheer. For the Jeepers, the event was a fun way to win some prizes and see the town. For the seniors they visited, it was much more than that.
Dixie 4 Wheel Drive, an off-road store, modification and repair facility with locations in St. George and Moab, partnered with TeraFlex Suspensions, Kanati Tires, ARB 4X4 Accessories and TDS Telecommunications, who sponsored the contest and provided prizes, cookies and hot chocolate. Prizes were awarded to the winners of the contest and the hour and 15 minute-long 4X4 parade included a drive through downtown between visits to senior centers.
The parade stopped at Southgate Senior Living, Meadows Retirement Community, Sterling Court Assisted Living Community and Spring Gardens Senior Living.
Contestants in the vehicle decorating contest met at 5 p.m. at Dixie 4 Wheel Drive to compete and were judged in three categories: Best Lit, Funniest and All-Around Best of Show. The contest and parade were a COVID-inspired modification of Dixie 4 Wheel Drive’s annual Christmastime community service event, which usually takes the form of a pet adoption day, General Manager Tara Thompson said.
“I wanted to do something that still related to the community, but where we were kind of able to separate,” Thompson said. “With the senior centers being locked down, I thought it was a good route to go down.”
The best part of the evening was seeing the effects on the seniors they visited, Thompson said. One resident at the last stop opened her window to thank the paraders for making her day.
“I felt it was important to do an event for seniors because they’re cooped up, they can’t get out, they can’t have their families see them,” Thompson said. “Everyone needs a reminder that people care about them even though they can’t see them.”
For the residents of Southgate Senior Living, the approaching parade sounded like angels coming around the corner, said Nina Heck, the executive director at Southgate. Some residents were sick and had to stay inside, but others opened their windows and waved at the drivers. Residents of the memory care side and the assisted living side of the facility were able to watch the parade.
“Because of the isolation that these residents have they don’t have a lot of interaction with the outside world apart from their essential visitors,” Heck said. “Most of them don’t go out except for to a doctor, so having something like that means so much to them.”
The turnout was such a success that the event may happen again next year, Thompson said. Several participants told her they would do it again if given the opportunity, and Thompson hopes that the event will be more intimate in the future. The residents at Southgate also hope that the parade will come by again, Heck said.
More information about the event can be found on Dixie 4 Wheel Drive’s Facebook page.
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