PHOTOS: With a crash and a bang, B.C. residents applaud health-care workers

People are seen clapping on their balconies in Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Thousands of people in Vancouver’s west end have been going out on their balconies to applaud the front line heath care workers each night at 7pm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
People are seen clapping on their balconies in Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Thousands of people in Vancouver’s west end have been going out on their balconies to applaud the front line heath care workers each night at 7pm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Reverend Gary Paterson, right, and his partner Tim Stevenson clap and beat on a pot with a wooden spoon as part of a tribute to health care workers in Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Thousands of people in Vancouver’s west end have been going out on their balconies to applaud the front line heath care workers each night at 7pm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A man in an apartment window applauds in support of healthcare workers, along with many others applauding and making noise in windows and on balconies at 7 p.m. in Vancouver’s West End, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Organizers have used social media to coordinate the nightly event to show support for front-line healthcare workers who are helping fight the coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck A man in an apartment window applauds in support of healthcare workers, along with many others applauding and making noise in windows and on balconies at 7 p.m. in Vancouver’s West End, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Organizers have used social media to coordinate the nightly event to show support for front-line healthcare workers who are helping fight the coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

At the same time each night, Rev. Gary Paterson and about half a dozen other neighbours have begun gathering at least two metres apart on the rooftop patio of their building in Vancouver’s west end.

They don’t know who will signal the beginning, and everyone’s clocks are slightly different, but just before 7 p.m., they hear clapping in the distance.

“It’s usually at about two minutes to seven, like people can’t restrain their enthusiasm, and then it starts to move like a wave,” he said on Wednesday.

The applause is for health-care workers and other essential service providers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s a practice that became commonplace in Italy, which has recorded more deaths from the novel coronavirus than anywhere else and has now taken hold in British Columbia. The virus itself has killed 14 people in B.C., and 659 people have so far been confirmed to have it.

Paterson said the first few nights were quieter, but the wave has grown in strength.

“Last night was incredible. There just seems to be more and more people. People swinging open their windows and clapping and leaning out. People on balconies and somebody blowing a trumpet somewhere — just a wonderful response from the whole community,” he said.

For Paterson, a United Church minister, the message is personal.

Not only is his daughter an emergency room nurse, but he went through a tough time medically last year. He had a hip replacement, emergency bowel surgery that saved his life and a colostomy reversal.

“It made me incredibly appreciative and impressed by the health-care workers from doctors and nurses to all those who kept things clean. Now I realize they’re in the midst of this crisis and it doesn’t stop them,” he said.

“So here we are to do what we can to help.”

The phenomenon is spreading.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps has encouraged residents to open their windows and give a loud round of applause at 7 p.m. each night.

Fiona Burrows said she was inspired to bring the practice to her neighbourhood in New Westminster.

“I live less than a kilometre away from Royal Columbian Hospital and I have plenty of friends and neighbours in my community here who work at the hospital and I thought what a great way to show our appreciation for what they’re doing,” she said.

It started small on Monday, with Burrows and one other neighbour tooting horns at the stroke of 7 p.m. But thanks to the power of social media, word spread quickly.

On Tuesday, it was a completely different story, she said.

“People were out on their porches and in their yards and they were hooting and hollering and banging pots and pans and waving at each other and it was just a wonderful couple of minutes of feeling connected, even though we’re in this time of social isolation.”

Burrows said she plans to continue the practice until the pandemic is over.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trail Shoppers Drug Mart offers virtual doctor appointments

Most Shoppers locations in B.C. will offer online appts by Aug. 4

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Two search and rescue calls involving children end with happy outcomes

The incidents took place in Trail and Salmo area on July 5 and 6

Province releases Columbia River Treaty public feedback report

Reservoir levels, fair compensation for impacted communities, among many issues raised

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Most Read