Coronavirus: Florida residents host porch decorating contest
Dana Minyard sorts through a pile of over-sized tulips and daisies his wife, Patti Peeples, painted on cardboard.
He spends the afternoon attaching the colorful assortments onto the facade of their Walnut Street home. Just blocks away, other residents in Jacksonville’s Springfield Historic District do the same, but instead of flowers, using giant lollipops, hearts, even dinosaurs.
It’s all part of the neighborhood’s porch decorating contest — configured to distract residents from the concerns of the spread of the coronavirus.
“This neighborhood is full of creative people,” resident Kat Ott, who launched the contest with her friend, Leah Rose, said. “Everyone is out taking walks everyday and we thought it would give everyone something to look at.”
The friends had the idea last week after hearing about other neighborhoods around the country putting holiday lights up to lift spirits.
They launched the event on Facebook with the only rules being to sign up by the weekend and use items already on hand, to encourage social distancing.
“We have been sharing cardboard, craft paper, pool noodles, paint, you name it and people have asked and found most of what they have needed to decorate by neighbors sharing,” Ott said. “We asked that everyone use what they have and not go out and buy stuff. The point is social distancing, but staying creative and engaged with neighbors, not going out and shopping and putting anyone at risk by being out and about.”
Winners will get gift cards for local businesses and the grand prize winner will get a gaudy handmade trophy Ott created by gluing random trinkets together and spray painting the whole thing metallic gold. Participants pooled money together to buy gift cards, coffee and beer from Springfield businesses for the winners.
Throughout the neighborhood, about 40 houses are participating in the contest with themes like Spring Has Sprung, Dr. Seuss, safari, Under the Sea and more.
Decorations were required to be finished by Wednesday afternoon with residents encouraged to walk or bike through the neighborhood — at a proper distance — to take it all in. Voting will take place on the event’s Facebook page.
Ott and Rose said they were pleased with how an activity originally launched to combat boredom has blossomed.
“This neighborhood is special and everyone loves to decorate for all the holidays,” she said. "[We] figured everyone would be pretty into and glad to get outside and work on something fun in light of that is going on right now.“
As for how long the decorations will stay up? That’s anyone’s guess.
“I think the decorations can stay up as long as anyone wants to keep theirs up,” Ott said. “We are likely all gonna be home for a while so I think we would all love to walk around and enjoy them as long we quarantining.”
This story originally published to jacksonville.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.