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An 'Affinity' for Christmas

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | December 16, 2020 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — By the time the fourth Christmas song rolled around, Jessie Bell and Patricia Andrysiak had had enough of standing, listening and clapping.

It was dance time.

So they twirled and whirled as they spun with short, light steps to "Jingle Bells," smiling as fellow residents of Affinity at Coeur d’Alene cheered them on.

“I was bopping around here and I think Jessie decided, ‘Hey, I’ll bop with ya,'” Andrysiak said.

Bell nodded in agreement.

“It was fun dancing,” she said. “I love to dance.”

The 55-plus community on Cederblom Street celebrated Christmas early on a 34-degree, gray, wet Tuesday afternoon as songs like “Let It Snow” and Jingle Bell Rock” filled the air in the courtyard.

Led by Stacey Vahey, assistant community director, many walked outside and one by one, balcony doors opened and smiling residents joined in.

Affinity held a similar sing-along in April to show their support for their country and President Donald Trump.

“C’mon you guys,” Vahey shouted in to her megaphone. “You better get out here and sing.”

They did.

Some wore antlers and some Santa hats. One wore a colorful sweater with snow and ribbons, while another sported a black sweater with snowflakes. And one woman arrived in an elf outfit, complete with striped socks, red knickers, green shirt and red sleeves.

“I love it. I love my residents,” Vahey said during a break from her inspired dance moves.

She noted despite the cold, many took part in the holiday party. It gets them moving and amid the coronavirus restrictions, gives them reason to party.

“It’s good for them,” she said.

Dianne Dickinson, wearing red antlers, retreated inside briefly and returned with a fluffy snowman. She was happy.

“I love it, something different,” she said.

Judy McKenna wore a Santa cap, red vest and white scarf. She said the gathering raised her spirits.

“It beats just sitting in my apartment, watching TV,” she said.

When the final song, "Silent Night," finished, residents shuffled back indoors. One voice rose before a balcony door closed.

“Merry Christmas, everybody.”

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BILL BULEY/Press

Jessie Bell, right, and Patricia Andrysiak dance to Christmas songs at Affinity at Coeur d'Alene on Tuesday.

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BILL BULEY/Press

Affinity at Coeur d'Alene residents come out on their balconies to join a Christmas sing-along on Tuesday.

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BILL BULEY/Press

Judy McKenna, left, and friends at Affinity at Coeur d'Alene join an outside Christmas celebration on Tuesday.

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BILL BULEY/Press

Stacey Vahey, assistant community direct at Affinity at Coeur d'Alene, leads a Christmas celebration on Tuesday.