This is a story about how a small town ‘made lemonade out of lemons’ to make a difference for the seniors at their local high school whose graduation activities were cancelled due to COVID19.

This took place in Petaluma, Ca  a town formerly known as the Egg Basket of the World for its bustling egg industry. Although it is more cosmopolitan than rural now, it still has a small town feeling.

It is large enough so that everyone doesn’t know every body, but small enough so the everyone feels connected. I mention that because I don’t what they did for their graduating seniors would not happen in a large city. I live less than an hour from Petaluma but it seems like a completely different world from the urban landscape of Oakland.

Anyway one of the residents created their own “Adopt A Senior” group which is trending on Facebook for their community. This started as a way to give the graduating seniors support, gifts and tributes as a consolation for all their cancelled plans.

How it works is the parents of graduating senior post a photo of them on Facebook with a bio about their interests and activities and future plans. People in the community then “adopt” one or more seniors and then they do something special for them.

Jean Howery, adopted two seniors. But then she read about a senior named Holly who is the Drum Major for Casa Garden High School. She had read the post that Holly’s mom wrote on Facebook that Holly was supposed to lead her band in a local parade (Butter and Eggs Day) but it too was cancelled. So Jean decided to do something nice for Holly.

Jean just so happens to have a collection of mannequins which she uses for her annual Halloween displays.She remembered that she had band uniforms in the colors of the two high schools and that she bought from a local costume shop. So she dressed the mannequins to represent members of the school band and put them in her front yard and had music playing.

Note: I want to give a special kudos to Jean for having mannequins in various ethnicities And she called Holly’s mom to get Holly’s actual drum major uniform  and put it on a mannequin with long blonde hair like Holly’s.

There is a third high school in the Petaluma area but it doesn’t have a band. So Jean dressed the mannequins in the school colors and put them on her porch as spectators cheering the band.

To top things off, Jean went to the DollarTree to get a selection of faux flowers in school colors of both high schools which she “planted” strategically in her yard.

She added a Congratulations 2020 Grads sign and balloons VOILA!  A wonderful photo friendly tribute to all the graduates in the area and special tribute to Holly.

Holly and her family came by and took photos of Holly standing with her “bandmates” and mannequin twin. Jean had also made Holly a necklace out of vintage medals and she put the necklace in a gold bag for her along with a card and money.

Jean left the display up for several days and lots of people came by to see it. Someone left a note on Jean’s door that said: We don’t know you, but we love you. Thanks for everything you do for this town.  Your displays are an inspiration in every season. Thank you!

As someone who sells mannequins for a living I have been mannequins used for all kinds of creative projects -especially at Burning Man and for Halloween. But this is the one is my favorite.

Bravo to Jean for being so creative and thoughtful to someone she never even met before. 


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