Volunteers dress up in costumes, hold parade outside CT hospitals for children battling cancer

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– A holiday treat for kids in two local hospitals, where the pandemic rule is no visitors these days. The rule is tough on kids, especially cancer patients who are in the hospital for long stretches, but there is no rule against a parade outside the hospital.

They wore costumes like a polar bear, reindeer, even a unicorn, and marched around Yale New Haven Hospital. Underneath those costumes were volunteers for several different charities that help children battling cancer. Due to the pandemic, they have not seen those kids in person in months. Inside that polar bear was Rhonda Ryan, one of the organizers.

“We wanted to find a way to see these kids and bring some smiles and joy and laughter to them and to their health care workers today,” Ryan said.

The folks who work inside the hospital say their pediatric cancer patients are so resilient, they take the pandemic in stride.

“A lot of our children that are in the hospital have been wearing masks all along to help protect them,” said Pediatric Oncology Manager Denise Carr. “So to them, this is the norm, and so they keep us in check.”

The volunteers with the Childhood Cancer Alliance call those kids warriors. They will get through this no matter how they see visitors.

“It’s not the same to not have that personal interaction with the kids and the families, but Zoom has been a blessing,” said Ryan.

However, nothing beats seeing someone in person. Especially if they’re in a funny costume. This is the best way to do that since the hospital strictly limits visitors.

“Just one parent at the bedside,” Carr explained. “So this will be great for them to get to see some of their favorite characters and just to be able to see people having fun.”

The same group is also visiting Connecticut Children’s in Hartford, spreading that holiday cheer to young patients there as well.

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