Saturday, for the first time, the real sadness of this social distancing hit me.

The calendar on my cell phone notified me that I was to take pictures at the Easter Egg Hunt at Ripp Park this year that was planned, and of course, canceled.

The memory of last year’s egg hunt flashed by: a chilly April morning at Tierney Park with hundreds of children scurrying after colorful Easter eggs. I remembered afterwards, while driving north on Division Street, I passed the Waunakee Food Pantry, where the Boy Scouts were sorting food after their drive, and I stopped there, too, to take photographs as they worked.

Because of COVID-19, two events that brought the Waunakee community together were off the table this year. This hit home particularly because I had just talked to Natalie Dresen of the Waunakee Food Pantry the day prior and learned that some shelves were bare.

Usually, when I have an event like the Easter Egg Hunt to cover on a Saturday or Sunday, I grumble a little until I get there and see all of the families having fun. That always lifts my spirits, and I’m grateful for a job that allows me to be creative and be part of such festive times. I’m always happy I showed up. This year, the Easter Bunny sure would have been a sight for sore eyes.

The absence of the event illuminated how much I appreciate covering community gatherings, talking with the organizers, and photographing families enjoying life in Waunakee with one another. For a few minutes, I mourned the loss of these this year – Garage Sale Days and Depot Days to name a few – particularly as spring brings us beautiful weather for outdoor activities.

Still, lots of families are finding ways to keep the community spirit alive on Facebook with activities from a distance.

One reader learned from a friend about a Light up and Brighten our Village campaign starting now. For the month of April, residents can set out a candle or luminary outside of their house between the hours of 8-10 p.m. as a sign of support for everyone in Waunakee, saying, let us shine in spite of this virus.

In New York City, at 7 p.m. each evening, residents shout from their windows, “thank you,” to health workers for putting their lives on the line each day.

As we’ve heard so many times, we’re all in this together, even though we’re apart. If we can remember this while we hunker down in our homes, we might find some comfort.

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