WINCHESTER — Small parades can be more enjoyable than larger ones, Abrams Pointe subdivision residents have realized.
They were disappointed to learn that the 94th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival wasn't going to have a parade. So they organized one of their own. They called it the Abrams Pointe Bloom.
Saturday morning, families took to the streets of the neighborhood off Greenwood Road in Frederick County. Parents either walked the route or rode in tractors. Some of their children rode in wagons pulled by the tractors; others rode bicycles, scooters or toy vehicles. Balloons, streamers and other decorations adorned some of the rides.
Residents not in the parade — including several dogs on leashes who were eager to greet — watched while seated or standing along the sidewalks. Some of the spectators threw candy at the children who passed by.
Everyone enjoyed refreshments together afterward.
"It was fun just hanging out with everybody," said resident Lauren Rosenthal, 16.
To the residents, the parade wasn't just a neighborhood gathering. It also was a way to celebrate a special bond they've formed in the past couple of years.
Morgan Occhuizzo, who lives on Jeni Court, came up with the idea for the event.
But "the kids organized a lot of this," said Occhuizzo, assistant principal at Daniel Morgan Middle School in Winchester.
Not long after she came to Winchester in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, and social distancing efforts restricted her ability to get to know the area. After moving to Abrams Pointe last year, though, she got to know her neighbors and soon realized it's a close-knit subdivision.
"Community relationships don't happen much anymore," said Occhuizzo, who previously lived in the Fairfax and Newport News areas.
Yet in Abrams Pointe, "we've gotten to know each other very well," she said of the residents.
"This is a community where we've (her family) felt safe," she added.
"It's a great neighborhood," said Jodi Yeggy, who moved with her family to Abrams Pointe from Iowa almost two years ago. "We were lucky to move here. Everyone's so social."
Linda Rewis decorated her house for the neighborhood event and the Apple Blossom Festival. Her garage door displayed a banner reading, "Back in Bloom," the theme of this year's festival. She handed out candy to children who gathered in her yard during the parade for a group picture.
"I'm excited and happy for the kids," said Rewis. "It was a pretty day for a parade."