First responders and medical personnel had an opportunity to shed their masks, enjoy the sunshine and take in the sights and sounds of the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo’s Grand Parade on Saturday morning.
The Frolic’s board of directors wanted to show support and appreciation for their efforts over the past 16 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, so they were invited to appear in the parade as grand marshals.
Dr. Shawn Foley of Philomath Family Medicine and others working in the health-care field no doubt appreciate the recognition, but he had appreciative comments of his own directed at community members.
“I have to give compliments to our area. We’ve done a great job with vaccinations,” Foley said. “I’m feeling good … this is one of the first times I haven’t worn a mask out in public. We’ve now hit 70% in Oregon and I think we should celebrate. I’m glad we’ve stuck together as a community … we pulled together and got through this.”
Community members lined both sides of Applegate Street for the 10 a.m. parade. Philomath Fire & Rescue, among those first responders recognized as grand marshals, led the way in Old Engine No. 1 followed by a few of the department’s more modern vehicles.
The Frolic & Rodeo weekend has been one of the first big social events not only in Philomath, but in the entire county and region. It had been a long road to reach this point of such a large gathering.
“I think when COVID first hit, a lot of us didn’t know exactly how we were supposed to react to it,” Foley said looking back. “We were worried, we took a lot of precautions and we saw people get sick and saw people even not make it, and that’s tough on everyone.”
Foley said the clinic had staffing issues with those who were worried about getting sick and so there had to be a balance to that part of the operation. Philomath Family Medicine has a staff of around 30.
“It’s not over yet, there’s some variants, there’s some issues, and I know it’s been extremely difficult for everyone but I think if we just hang in there a little bit more and we get a few more people convinced to get vaccinated, we’ll be in great shape,” Foley said.
Various efforts have been organized to try to get unvaccinated individuals to get the shot, including Oregon’s Take Your Shot $1 million lottery. On Friday, the Oregon Lottery announced that an Oregon State University student from McMinnville, Chloe Zinda, had won the big prize.
Masks continue to be worn at medical facilities, including Philomath Family Medicine.
“We get asked about that but we see a lot of vulnerable people and we do not want it passing through,” Foley said. “We have people who have transplants, who are on immunosuppressants, we have people who haven’t been able to be vaccinated yet … We are still going to take those precautions until we feel like we don’t have to anymore, but for now, we do have an obligation to help vulnerable people.”
The parade started at Philomath High School and headed west down Applegate Street toward South 11th Street.
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