By Tami Sulistyo
May 9, 2020
Since the Kentucky Derby was delayed this year due to Covid-19, our neighbors the Villelli’s, decided it was time to take matters into their own hands. They held their own derby, in an effort to create some fun and community during this long time of social distancing.
Vicki owns a home care business and has a number of discarded walkers, formerly used by people needing support while walking. Her husband Tony, the handiest man I know, fixed them up and placed them at socially distanced intervals along a start line in their driveway, drawn in chalk.
After playing horse race music and ringing a bell to signal it was time to begin, each couple was instructed to push their partner around the circle shaped driveway, and then switch, to complete a two-lap race. The rules were simple: no running allowed and stay within the lines of the track. Everyone invited was encouraged to wear a costume of their choice. My husband and I each wore a bathrobe and hat. We gave ourselves the names Nick and Bernadette Shufflebuns.
Donning face masks, we arrived a few minutes early and were delighted to meet four new neighbors that we hadn’t yet gotten to know. I really appreciated being given that opportunity. The hosts and their kids were kind enough to provide refreshments you might buy at the Kentucky Derby. We stood an appropriate distance apart in the driveway while we chatted. Both sets of new neighbors bought houses on our block from people who had lived there many years and wanted to downsize. Everyone agreed they are attracted to living in the town we live in, Eagan, because it is so well situated conveniently between the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Then it was time to race! We laughed a lot, even as we concentrated on the road, our efforts to win, and trying not to fall over each time the walker hit an uneven surface. In the middle of the race I spotted a FedEx truck coming down the street and smiled thinking how confused he must have been seeing what was going on. We made for an unusual sight.
There were prizes for first, second and third place, and the promise of a rematch next year. The whole thing was silly and so much fun. It was great having something to look forward to during this seemingly unending time of social distancing.
We appreciated the creative way our neighbors found to bring people together and help us all break up the sameness of what is now our new normal daily routine. I don’t know about you, but a part of me becomes more alive when I do something I don’t normally do. We all need that spark these days. Hats off to our neighbors and anyone who takes action to give themselves and others a positive boost of energy by getting out of their comfort zone and letting creativity take over.