The route was shorter than a hundred-yard dash. There was only one car, a British Mini, at that. This was easily the smallest parade ever.
The parade may have also had the biggest heart ever.
“We have never done anything like this before,” Pat Guerrero said said as she waved toward the short road between the homes making up the White Sands retirement community in La Jolla.
The White Sands residents learned that a friend-of-a-friend’s relatives — a grandmother, mother and 3-year-old daughter with only the luggage in their hands— had just arrived after a long journey from Ukraine. They would be staying with their relative’s La Jolla apartment, for the time being.
Guerrero and resident Mary Sue Lindsay organized a parade and fundraiser to welcome the Ukrainian family to San Diego.
“We are so excited as a community to welcome them to La Jolla,” a beaming Guerrero said.
The family arrived in a British Mini convertible and slowly made their way down the “parade route” lined with residents waving Ukraine and U.S. flags. Each resident handed the mother or daughter a long stem sunflower. Mom could be seen wiping a tear from her eye.
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The family declined to do an interview and decided to live in the moment.
“We are blessed to have them as our neighbors,” Guerrero said.
Along the parade route, resident Lyle Hampton sat in a chair with a box in his hands that contained Easter eggs hand-painted by a Ukrainian woman 40 years ago. Hampton decided to give them to the mother.
“Oh, because this is a very special occasion to help the Ukrainians,” Hampton said with a smile.
The parade concluded with Lindsay handing the mother a box full of gift cards collected by the residents in the hopes of helping the family purchase new clothes.
”We’re here for them, to support them for whatever they need,” Guerrero said with a smile.