Lots of smiles in Rifle: 25 people sign pledge to be kind, wave and smile during ‘Hello Rodeo’ | PostIndependent.com

Lots of smiles in Rifle: 25 people sign pledge to be kind, wave and smile during ‘Hello Rodeo’

Rifle resident Kate Andreatta kisses her service dog Sam during the Hello Rodeo event held Friday afternoon in Rifle.
Ray K. Erku / Citizen Telegram

Amid honks, waves, smiles and neighbors, Kate Andreatta found herself overwhelmed by a simple joy Friday.

“The one thing I miss the most, that’s actually being able to get a hug from someone,” the retired substitute teacher and widow said. “I have no family. I just want us to get back so we can hug each other.”

With her service dog Sam sporting a small COVID-19 mask over his snout by her side, Andreatta said she was grateful for the Hello Rodeo – especially when it compelled her to leave her residence at a nearby assisted living home for a couple hours.

“With the turmoil the country’s in right now, it’s good to see people saying, ‘Be kind, be nice,’” Andreatta said. “Even if one person gets the message and thinks twice the next time they’re going to rip somebody apart, we’ve succeeded.”

One of the main goals of the event, organized by the Rifle Humanity Restoration Crew, was to connect people through  a pledge to wave, smile and be kind whenever the moment’s opportune. 

After an hour of people waving to traffic from the sidewalks near Rifle Middle School, about 25 visitors signed their names and made the pledge. And in return, they were presented with a “swag bag,” full with goodies like T-shirts, buttons and other merchandise.

Standing among the small crowd of sign holders, Kimber Burner, a member of Greater Rifle Improvement Team, agreed that while uncertainties over COVID-19 continue, events like the Hello Rodeo are important.

New Castle resident Summer Duclo, 12, foreground, smiles as her sister Tatum Duclo, 9, holds up a “smile, wave, greet” sign during the Hello Rodeo event held Friday afternoon in Rifle.
Ray K. Erku / Citizen Telegram

“We’re going to be doing a lot more of these kinds of things,” she said. “The weather, as it gets colder, it’ll make it harder. But we’re still going to do more things and there’s a lot more ideas coming down the pipe.”

Some motorists rolled their windows down to wave back and cheer on an assortment of city workers, various volunteers and even children, who held signs that donned smiley faces and a note saying, “Reconnecting people one wave at a time.”

“We’re spreading smiles,” Taveon Burrill, an 8-year-old Rifle resident, said.

Annick Pruett, taking an hour-long break from her post of community relations director at Grand River Health to help elicit honks and smiles, said the event not only helps get people together but it helps ease the mind, especially during a worldwide pandemic.

A car passenger passing through Railroad Avenue on Friday afternoon waves in response to a wave first engaged by Annick Pruett, left, during the Hello Rodeo event held Friday afternoon.
Ray K. Erku / Citizen Telegram

“I think people need to make a connection with other people,” she said. “That’s something with the masks and everything we’ve been going through, we’ve kind of lost that connection. I think that it’s really important and good for our mental health.”

“Any time you can smile and laugh and make somebody’s day, of course we need more of it,” she added.

If events like this continue, it’s safe to say people like Andreatta will continue to benefit.

“Yes it does,” Andreatta said when asked if the Hello Rodeo helps. “Because I haven’t been around anyone, especially with the COVID.”


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