“Hi-diddly-ho, neighborino!” The Cook Memorial Library, in partnership with the City of La Grande Parks & Recreation, Fire, and Police Departments, as well as City Hall, is encouraging La Grande residents to be like Ned Flanders, the notoriously friendly neighbor to The Simpsons, by going outside nightly at 7:00pm and waving and saying hi to their neighbors to help ease the loneliness of social distancing. This initiative is called the “Say Hi La Grande!” campaign.

La Grande joins other cities around the country — including Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sandusky, Ohio, and Woodland, California — in the neighborly wave movement to help communities feel connected and united during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Library, along with other City of La Grande departments, is urging the community to go out on their front porches, stoops, balconies, sidewalks, or through open windows in the front of their homes at 7:00pm nightly and wave and say hi to their neighbors. “This is the time to look out for each other, and check on our neighbors, even if from a safe distance,” said Library Director Kip Roberson.

In addition to the nightly wave, residents are encouraged to decorate their windows or yards with the goal of bringing a smile or offering comfort and hope to passersby. Popular decorations include rainbows, teddy bears, and sidewalk chalk art featuring flowers and words of kindness.

The “Say Hi La Grande” wave campaign can be found online at www.Facebook.com/SayHiLaGrande. All participating residents are encouraged to post pictures or videos of themselves waving or of their neighbors waving back to the page. The Library and Parks & Recreation Departments are sponsoring a contest for the “happiest window display” and “best sidewalk chalk art.” To be entered into the contests, share your window and sidewalk pictures to the campaign’s Facebook page or to your own personal social media using #SayHiLaGrande. The contest will run until which time Governor Brown’s Stay Home, Save Lives executive order is lifted; prizes are yet to be determined.

To stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far topped more than 1.5 million cases worldwide, health officials have instructed the public to practice social distancing. This includes staying home, avoiding crowds and refraining from touching other people.

“As we continue weeks, and possibly months, of socially isolating at home, it can start to feel quite lonely,” said Roberson, “but the entire world is in this fight together — so let’s go outside, wave, and say hello…a safe six feet away!”

The “Say Hi La Grande” campaign will continue as long as the need to isolate is necessary, if not longer. longer.