Vannessa Brown DeFalco spent more than two hours on March 22 working with her three daughters to create colorful hearts for their windows facing Chestnut Street in Franklin Square.
Vannessa traced all of the hearts, 6-year-old Valentina cut them out and 12-year-old Samantha and 2-year-old Christiana hung them for everyone to see, as part of the Rainbows Over Nassau and Suffolk Counties initiative.
The project was created by Wantagh resident Nicole Sapienza and her aunt Katherine Schilling on March 18 to encourage Long Islanders to “get outside and do something fun without touching or coughing near others,” according to its Facebook page. To participate, it says, people would simply have to design a rainbow for their window. Then, their neighbors would be able to go outside and search for all of the rainbows in their community.
There are now nearly 35,000 members of the Facebook group, including dozens from the Franklin Square area.
“I just thought it was such a great way to lighten up the mood with everything going on and make the kids smile,” Vannessa said of her decision to participate in the Island-wide rainbow hunt.
Others, however, saw it as a way to stay connected with their neighbors, as many New Yorkers are forced to self-isolate to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Christine Gangone, for example, said seeing all of the rainbows makes her feel “like we are all in this together, and we’ll get through it together,” and Michelle Higgins-Reddington noted that the hunt has helped spread community cheer.
She decided to work on a rainbow with her 5-year-old daughter, who then showed off her finished work to her fellow preschoolers on a video chat. “To see all her classmates so excited to see each other, if only online, and share their rainbows was priceless,” Higgins-Reddington said, adding that when she and her children took a walk around the neighborhood on Sunday, they found 11 rainbows.
Some children have even purposefully travelled around Franklin Square looking for these rainbows. Katie Bogusch said her children’s friends from school have intentionally walked over to her house on Princeton Road to see her rainbow “so it’s been so good for the kids to see friends, albeit through the window, for a few minutes.”
And even some businesses have gotten in on the fun. Lia’s Pizzeria and Silbers Martial Arts studio are encouraging children to draw rainbows for their windows.
“Rainbows are beautiful and uplifting and cause people to smile,” Debby Iadevaio, who created her own rainbow for her front window, explained, “and I think in these strange times of uncertainty, it’s nice to give hope to our children, and have them walk around the neighborhood looking for rainbows so they don’t feel scared or confused.”
Beverly Hornak also saw the project as a way to talk to her children about the coronavirus, “but in a positive way.”
“Rainbows from a religious standpoint are God’s way of saying things will be OK,” she explained, “and the rainbow can just be a signal of the clearing after the storm — a metaphor for this virus being gone, and hopefully soon.”