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BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS

PHOTOS BY KATE ALBRIGHT
winters@montclairlocal.news

Gail Stocks’ neighbors on Brookfield Road were feeling down, like everyone else recently. As a pick-me-up, her husband suggested they text the neighbors (conforming to social distancing by not ringing doorbells) and invite them to step outside onto their stoops and share a toast last Friday, March 13, during a typical happy hour.

“On Brookfield Road, we knew that being six feet apart could never really distance us from one another and would never be a barrier to being good neighbors. Surprisingly, almost everyone came out to their stoops and front porch,” Stocks said, and they toasted to “better times, but never better neighbors” and laughed and were uplifted.

They are now doing their toast every night until the COVID-19 situation is over. The notion is picking up everyone’s spirits. They are also helping to celebrate birthdays — one neighbor’s birthday was on Monday and another on Tuesday.

“So we sang happy birthday and will do it again tomorrow. Kids and adults alike joined in,” said Stocks.

The second night, they discovered a neighbor’s new baby would be one of the next celebrations.

“What a wonderful way to turn a quiet birthday and a new baby into something special. Kids and adults alike joined in – even our dogs appreciated the socializing now that the dog park is also closed,” she said.

They are now working on a thematic song and maybe a specialty drink from the lemons they are making into lemonade. The group has now ensured they have each other’s phone numbers, and are checking in to see if anyone needs anything, even if for now it’s just a smile and a reason to get out of the house.

The neighbors have shared information about what they have each “hoarded,” hoping they each stocked up on something different so they can share when it’s needed.

“So far it’s purple crayons and art supplies – seems like we all have enough of everything else,” Stocks said.

And fair warning, she said: “If anyone isn’t out for our happy hour, we will check and see why – we know they aren’t at another party!”