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Residents take a page out of history during COVID-19 crisis

A Westover resident and a homesick West Virginian who can’t return home for the duration of the pandemic are both doing what they can to build a sense of community and camaraderie during the COVID-19 crisis.

Sharon Chapman, 71, of Westover, has started lighting an electric candle in a street-facing window of her home every night at 6:30.
She hopes others will start doing the same thing.

“So when we look outside, we see each other and we know we’re all there for each other even though we can’t be out and about anymore,” she said.

The tradition dates back to World War II when people put candles in their window to welcome troops home, she said.

She posted her candle idea on Facebook and it was well-received. Friends of Chapman, including some from Cheat Lake started doing the same thing.

Chapman recommends people use an electric candle to avoid the fire hazard of a real candle and said her candle is lit for five hours each night.

Some people though, such as Sarah Harbert, 33, wouldn’t be able to see a candle in those windows.

Harbert works in an oil field in North Dakota and her job isn’t allowing her to leave the area — at least not without being quarantined for two weeks upon returning.

That news came after she was forced to cancel her April wedding in Florida because of COVID-19.

Unable to see her fiancé, Harbert said she was feeling down until her dad sent her a video from Italy of people gathered on their decks singing Country Roads, the 1971 John Denver classic and a song almost every West Virginian knows.

That inspired her to start singing the victory song of the Mountaineers every night at 6 p.m. and post the video to Facebook.

“So I’m homesick, I don’t get to go home, but I was just thinking that it would be cool,” she said.

Harbert’s family quickly joined and she said singing the song in unison is a great way to build togetherness and camaraderie in the community.
Around the world, videos of similar acts have been going viral on social media.

One video shows Midtown Atlanta residents applauding health care workers during shift change — something that’s happened three nights in a row, according to the video.

Another shows a Spaniard keyboardist and his neighbor, several apartments over on a saxophone, playing Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On while others watch and applaud from their own balconies.

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