Seniors and their walkers go on parade

Publish Date:

Monday, December 21, 2009

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News Organization:

Orange County Register

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LAGUNA HILLS — Residents of Villa Valencia were strutting their stuff with Christmas-adorned walkers on Monday, competing for the title of "Most Creative" decorations in a holiday walker parade.

Elaine Lewis, a former Laguna Woods Village resident, organized the competition where 15 people dressed up themselves and their walkers in Christmas apparel and paraded through the lobby of Villa Valencia, an independent senior living facility. Some used singing Santas, cookies, dolls and even a giant holiday kissing booth to decorate their walkers and scooters.

"They realized there is a little child in all of us and they let loose," Lewis said.

Bobbie Smith took home the "Most Creative" prize with her cardboard kissing booth mounted on her walker. She gave away peppermint candies and free kisses.

"My boys did this to surprise me," Smith said of the red, snow-topped booth fastened to her walker. "I think it's marvelous, don't you?"

Other Villa Valencia residents looked on and voted on the walkers as they passed by.

"I thought the kissing booth was good," said resident Gene Hochstedler. "I liked her campaign."

Evelyn Carver won the "Prettiest" décor with a doll on her walker. Amelia Foster, who took home the "Funniest" decorations prize, mounted a singing Santa on her walker and when she pressed its hand, Santa would break into the song "Shout."

"Well, this little guy started it," Foster said of the singing Santa. "I thought he was so cute."

Anita Sherwood decorated her scooter with Santas and tree trimmings and she said she would leave them on until after the New Year.

"It just was fun to do," Sherwood said. "Just lots of fun."

Lewis organized golf cart parades in Laguna Woods Village in 1996 and 1997, she said, and she decided to put together the walker parade to lift her spirits. Lewis said she lost her husband, Jack Doerfler, shortly after moving to Villa Valencia in October.

"This makes me happy," she said looking around the room at the participants and supporters. "It helps me forget my own sadness."

Another resident, Felize Tiaghe, erected a small tree on the seat of her walker and decorated it with tags printed with names of countries like Greece and Ireland.

"It's all the places I've been all over the world," Tiaghe said.

Staff at Villa Valencia said although this was the first year for the parade, they planned on continuing the tradition Lewis started.

"They have been so excited and energized," said associate executive directorMary Ellen Heilgeist. She said the residents had been preparing for three weeks.

"I'm just so excited, it's been wonderful," said Lewis.

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