WATERTOWN —  The emotions were raw and real. “We love you! We Miss you! Thank you and be safe!” Led by a police escort, more than 50 vehicles of family and friends voiced their love and support of the residents and staff of Apple Rehab rehabilitation and recovery facility of Watertown on the sun-drenched afternoon of May 14. Turning off Bunker Hill Road and into the facility, the parade of cars, some decorated with balloons and placards and even the occasional occupant standing up and over the sunroof, showered affection on more than 70 staff members and residents.

Some were bundled up in blankets to offset a slight afternoon breeze.

“It’s Nursing Home Week, and this was a big part of our celebration of it,” said Apple Administrator Paula Meunier.

“It’s been a tough time for our industry lately, but we are a proud team of professionals, and we want to let people know that we are dedicated to getting our residents through this.

“Hopefully sooner rather than later, they can be together again.”

The parade was the brainchild of Facilities Director Joe D’Averso, who carried the Star and Stripes behind the WPD cruiser at the head of line.

“We wanted to do something for our ‘family’ here, boost everyone’s morale a little and let our residents see their family and friends,” D’Averso said.

Blue-shirted staff and residents all wore masks, but it was easy to see that smiles and joy were the order of the day as the cars honked their horns and the occupants shouted words of encouragement.

“It was everything we hoped it would be,” said Mr. D’Averso, whose sentiment was echoed by Ms. Meunier.

“Our staff and residents hope, as do we all, that we’ll get through this and be the better for it,” she said.

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