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Brightview Avondell in Bel Air hosts its own ‘Preakness’ to delight of residents

The Preakness may have been postponed this year, but that didn’t stop staff at Brightview Avondell from hosting a race of their own to cheer up residents Wednesday at the senior independent and assisted living facility in Bel Air.

The five-"horse" race featured staff “jockeying” inflatable animal costumes, which they named Chicken Fried Chicken, Chunky Monkey, Coronasaurus Rex, Princess Pickles (a unicorn) and eventual winner Flaming Flamingo.

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Andy Anderson, the executive director of Brightview Avondell, said they put together the races for an opportunity to get residents outside and experience “that vibrancy that we haven’t been able to do in the interest of keeping everyone safe and healthy.”

Staff worked hard to coordinate getting the residents into the courtyard safely, limiting elevators to two people and a time and ensuring they were socially distanced and taking other precautions, like wearing face masks.

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“It’s such a boost right now at a time when all of us need a boost,” Anderson said. “You can see the smiles, even behind the masks. This was a fantastic day.”

He said Brightview Avondell staff had been “getting a little bit silly” with its daily, in-house videos for residents, to the delight of residents. They wanted to do something about the Preakness, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 16, in Baltimore, before it was postponed because of the coronavirus and Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order prohibiting large gatherings.

“We looked at some ways to do it, and decided, you know what, let’s go all out,” Anderson said. “We looked up some inflatables, we got some volunteers, and said let’s do a mascot type race and make it as crazy as possible ... It was just a way to make something memorable.”

George Welch, a Brightview Avondell associate, who rode a hot pink “Flaming Flamingo” to victory, joked that the race “was a tough one, the competition out here was really in tip top shape. I was hoping for a little mud today, she’s great in the mud. ... I’m more of a closer, I got a little behind, in the end, she closed beautifully.”

Residents Reg and Marge Traband said there were thrilled with the Preakness event.

“Wonderful,” Marge said. “They do wonderful things for us here anyway.”

“Good to get together with everybody,” Reg added.

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