When they started a nightly cheer on March 28, 2020, they never imagined they’d still be cheering a whole year later.
But cheering they are, every night on quiet Coleman Street in the upper reaches of Lynn Valley in North Vancouver. On Sunday, March 28, 2021, a group of neighbours marked one year straight of marching and banging pots every night at 7 p.m., and they’re going to keep on doing it until we’re completely free of this COVID-19 pandemic, says resident Sandra Martin.
“We really want people to know that we haven’t stopped, and that we will continue to do this so that everyone who is working so hard to keep the community safe knows that we think about them every night,” says Martin. “We've kept it up because the people who are our heroes, the people who are taking care of us are not giving up. So we're not going to give up.”
The evening ritual typically starts with neighbour Karen Teufel playing the violin from her deck a little before 7 p.m., and then Sandra’s husband Paul Weir leads a march down the street, banging a big pot while folks along the route join in.
The list of pot bangers includes a neighbour, Ron Strilive, who is in his 80s, says Martin.
“He has not missed a single night. … He’s always out in his front yard, banging on a pot.”
They’ve lasted through four full seasons of variable West Coast weather, including more than a few snowstorms for a neighbourhood perched a good distance away from sea level, up the North Shore Mountains.
“It’s just enough colder up here that tomatoes are hard to grow,” says Martin with a laugh, adding that they all thought the pandemic would last only a few months. But it’s been a full year now, and the anniversary cheer was made all the more poignant by the horrific knife attack that happened in Lynn Valley just the day before the neighbourhood gave their one-year cheer.
“It made it a lot more emotional,” says Martin, adding there are health-care professionals who live on her street, and she has two children who are first responders.
Martin says she’s heard of a few other neighbourhoods on the North Shore that are still doing a nightly cheer, and she’s proud to count her street among the holdouts.
“We just feel that the pandemic is not over,” she says. “If anything, right now, the numbers are way up. … We couldn't figure out why people were giving it up. We didn’t understand. So we just kept going.”