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'Between Sunrise and Sunset,' a West Michigan neighborhood creates its own 'normal'

Life as we knew it, from sunrise to sunset, has changed. That includes a neighborhood of people in Walker who live BETWEEN 'Sunrise and Sunset.'

WALKER, Mich. — Due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19, life as we knew it, from sunrise to sunset, has changed. That includes a neighborhood of people in Walker, who live between ''Sunrise" and "Sunset."

"I live on Sunrise Lane," said Charlie VanderVliet. "Two streets over is Sunset Hills."

In between the two thoroughfares is a community of homes where the people are trying to create ways to remain connected at a time they can't get near each other. Homeowners are using a neighborhood Facebook page that had been nearly dormant for two years ago, but no longer is.

"Before coronavirus, the was used mostly for people to find lost packages," said VanderVliet, who is a neighborhood resident. "Now, it's become a way for all of us to get together, virtually, I guess."

VanderVliet says 80 neighborhood members are on the Facebook page. Residents rotate daily with new ideas and events for everybody to do, without physically connecting.

Credit: Charlie VanxderVliet
A Neighborhood in Walker, Mi. is leveraging social media to create daily events, allowing residents to stay connected, when they can't otherwise.

"The first activity that was posted to the page was back on St, Patrick's Day," said VanderVliet, "We did a shamrock hunt. Residents either drew or posted shamrocks outside of their homes, or inside their windows. The kids, and adults, walked around, count all the shamrocks, and then post on the Facebook page how many they found."

Credit: Charlie VanderVliet
"Chalk your Walk" events continue between "Sunrise" and "Sunset."

Many took pictures of the shamrocks and posted those to the page.

"Things really spiraled after that," said VanderVliet, who is the assistant principal at Grand Rapids City High School. 

Over the course of the past two weeks, more events were posted. One of them was for the kids to collect rocks, paint them, and line them along the sidewalk near the mailboxes, so passersby can see them. 

Credit: Charlie VanderVliet
One of the ongoing neighborhood events is asking kids to paint messages on rocks then place them out by their mailboxes so passersby can see them.

Other events since have included, but not been limited to: Chalk Talks (kids write positive messages with chalk on the sidewalks and/or on their driveways); finding license plates that spell something; count how many fire hydrants there are.

"We just utilize what we have and try to make it fun and engaging," added VanderVliet. "It's mostly for the kids, but adults can do it as well.

"The fun is seeing the Facebook page populate with photos from all these events, and how engaging it is for all of us."

VanderVliet says Tuesday's scavenger hunt was for stuffed teddy bears. The kids walked around the neighborhood, found them, then report how many they came across.

"People put the bears in their windows and on their porches," added VanderVliet. "The residents who didn't have a bear printed off photos of stuffed bears, and placed those in their windows."

"Having three small children, it's been interesting and trying at home to figure out how to keep them educated and engaged," said VanderVliet. "My kids best friends live next door, but they can't interact [in person]. They interact on the page, instead, and say, 'I went out and looked for bears; how many did you find?'"

VanderVliet says the plan is to keep coming up with engaging activities until this health crisis is over.

"Just trying to keep things positive," said VanderVliet.

They may be street names, but given the world's constantly changing circumstances, what's happening between "Sunrise" and "Sunset" for this community, is everything right now.

"It's been a blessing," added VanderVliet.

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