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By Collin Breaux

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for how social gatherings are held, and even how people interact—so neighbors on Paseo Mimosa and adjacent streets in San Juan Capistrano got creative.

Neighbors have brought their chairs out and talked on Wednesdays—from a distance, of course. The community started the tradition on April 1, 2020, as the global outbreak’s consequences started to become fully clear. The neighbors celebrated one year of getting together on March 31, 2021, participant Wendy Tucker said.

The “mingles”—as they were eventually labeled—were started by Tracy Kilpatrick, who kept them going on a regular basis.

“As neighbors, we all knew of each other, but as the year progressed, came to know one another well and build lasting friendships all thanks to Tracy’s diligence and hospitality,” Tucker said. “Our Wednesdays were looked forward to each week as the year wore on and became 2021. For many of us, these ‘mingles’ became the only social life we would know for weeks on end.”

To thank Kilpatrick and celebrate the get-togethers, the group collaborated on a surprise celebration in which Mariachi Nuevo Capistrano—a local mariachi band—performed.

“Tracy was completely surprised, and it was a wonderful feeling to give back to her for a change,” Tucker said. “A big thank you, Tracy Kilpatrick, from all of your many neighbors and friends. You got us through!”

Mariachi Nuevo Capistrano gave a special musical performance for the neighborhood group. Photo: Courtesy of Gary Tucker.

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