For 375 days and counting, a group of neighbors in Arlington has gotten together for a socially-distanced happy hour.
Residents in the East Falls Church area set up lawn chairs in a ring within their cul-de-sac, with yardsticks to ensure they stay six feet apart. During the winter months, a small bonfire crackled. When it rains, they prop up umbrellas or shelter in the trunk of their cars.
The neighborly effort to combat isolation during the pandemic got the attention of the Today Show, which featured the nightly get-together on national TV earlier this week.
“This started out as a simple, spontaneous idea among neighbors who really didn’t know each other very well,” NBC correspondent Kelly O’Donnell said. “Now, they call it a lifeline. The whole group has been COVID-free and happier getting through this together.”
These neighbors turn a patch of pavement into “a happy hour getaway” far away “from the grind of a world locked inside,” O’Donnell said. The group named its gathering “Six Feet at 6:30” and even made T-shirts and sweatshirts.
One neighbor, Linda Winter, told NBC that when she joins her neighbors, her anxiety subsides.
“There’s just a sense that we’re safe out here,” Winter said.
Longtime resident Rockley Miller said he appreciates the newfound sense of camaraderie.
“I grew up out in this neighborhood and I’ve never known as many neighbors as I do now,” Miller said.
The group celebrates every milestone and birthday — celebrations that could otherwise go unmarked due to gathering limits and COVID-19 risks. They even held a screening of the movie “Hamilton,” which came out last summer.
“It’s amazing to me how just a little bit of energy can go a long way,” resident Andy Cosgrove said.
The neighbors want to keep the happy hour up after the pandemic subsides, O’Donnell said, concluding the segment.
Photos via David Martin/YouTube