Candy corn and apples. Pumpkins and witchy cupcakes.
Welcome to Homeland Center’s first “Homeland Fall Fest” – a celebration of autumn that brought residents and staff outside to enjoy a crisp day and fun with friends.
“You could tell what it meant to them,” says Activities Coordinator Emma Lengyel. “Even on a cloudy day, they were so happy to be outside and be together.”
The Fall Fest was just one measure of autumn fun at Homeland. The Homeland Activities Department scheduled Fall Fest the Friday before a “spirited” Halloween week, full of costumes and treats, ensuring that every Homeland resident experienced the colors, tastes, and sights that brought back fond memories of autumns past.
As with many of the Activities Department’s efforts since March 2020, Fall Fest emerged from brainstorming alternatives for activities that were scuttled due to COVID-19. Homeland’s annual Summer Fair wasn’t held this year, but Activities staff still worked to give residents a day in the sun.
“We wanted something special for the residents and the staff, just because this past year, and almost two years now, has been crazy,” says Activities Director Aleisha Connors. “We decided to get the residents outside with a fun event planned for them.”
Fall Fest was spread across two venues – the parking lot for skilled care residents and the Chet Henry Memorial Pavilion for personal care. Each featured fun, fall-themed activities, such as a photo booth where residents posed in front of a backdrop image of hay bales and pumpkins, wearing masks depicting leaves, pumpkins, and “I love fall.”
“The residents have been talking about them all week,” Activities Coordinator Diomaris Pumarol said of the pictures, which were displayed in the Homeland Gathering Room. “Some of them are really funny.”
There also was pumpkin decorating, plenty of baked goods and even Farm Show milkshakes from the PA Dairymen’s Association food truck. Residents could even bob for apples using long-handled grabbers.
In pre-COVID years, residents thrilled to little ghosts, princesses, and superheroes – the children of Homeland staff – roaming the halls for trick or treat night. Until that popular event can return, Homeland Activities have made sure that residents aren’t missing the delights of Halloween, with daily ghostly doings for Halloween Spirit Week.
Monday was the day for wearing a favorite Halloween shirt. Nurses and CNAs wore Halloween-themed scrubs. Several staffers wore shirts from the movie “Hocus Pocus.”
On Tuesday, crazy socks peeked out from the staff’s Crocs and Danskos. One nurse in personal care wore spider web socks. On Wednesday, accessories day, Aleisha donned her “light-up” pumpkin earrings.
The week culminated with a repeat of the costume parade that was a big hit in 2020. Staff dressed in costumes, coordinated by department, and paraded to music through all four units of the building, handing out bags of candy along the way.
The Activities Department decided to dress as witches. Emma has been “going very hard into Spirit Week.”
“I made my own broom,” she says. “I have a big flouncy cape and a skirt and a witch hat with feathers.”
Residents join the fun, too, wearing colorful outfits and accessories while they find themselves reminiscing.
“It’s something festive, something that brings residents to those days, not necessarily when they went trick or treating, but mostly when they took their children trick or treating,” says Diomaris. “Those are the memories that come to them.”