Picnic pals from 6 feet away

Friends find a social distancing lunch is the way to go

social distancing picnic

Jaide Navarre, left, and Gambrelle Ieyoub have been friends since kindergarten and missed each other so they had a social distancing picnic.

Special to the American Press

Jaide Navarre and Gambrelle Ieyoub have been best friends since their kindergarten days at Immaculate Conception Cathedral School.

The 17-year-olds are both juniors at St. Louis Catholic School, company members in the Lake Charles Civic Ballet and dance together on the St. Louis Sweethearts dance team.

They have similar taste in lots of things so it made sense that they ended up getting matching cars, too — down to the color, make and model.

Normally inseparable, the friends hadn’t seen each other since Gov. John Bel Edwards’ stay-at-home order due to the pandemic.

Social distancing has become the new normal for lots of folks and it was no different for these best friends.

But then one of their mothers talked of an idea their principal, Mia Orgeron, had mentioned: what about a social distancing picnic?

They put plans into motion and the next thing you know, they were all set up for a darling southern-girl picnic — with china, linens, tea, coffee, muffins and they each wore dresses.Jaide NavarreJaide Navarre

Navarre and Ieyoub each laid out their picnic fare in the back of their respective vehicles, backed the cars up to one another, opened the back doors of the vehicles, and as they each sat in the back of their cars facing each other, they proceeded to talk, laugh, reminisce, and catch up on their lives — all from six feet away.

Heather Ieyoub, Gambrelle’s mother, said she has had to be especially mindful of the virus because her youngest child, Georgia, is immune suppressed due to Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.Gambrelle IeyoubGambrelle Ieyoub

“Jaide and Gambrelle have stayed connected by phone but were longing to see each other in person,” Ieyoub said. “So, we invited Jaide over for a social distancing picnic, which lasted for more than three hours. They obviously had a lot to talk about and it was a great way they could feel connected but at a safe distance.”

Gambrelle said the picnic was just what she and her friend needed.

“I know we have to stay a part for our health and the health of those around us, but I think being able to see a friend (even if it is from six feet away) is important for our mental health as well,” she said. “I’m happy we could do that safely. I want to follow the safety protocol for my grandparents and my little sister. It’s really the least we can do. But I will be glad when this is over and we can go back to school. Gosh, I never thought I would say that!”

Jaide agreed and said the picnic gave she and her friend a much-needed lift.

“It’s been really hard to be unable to see my friends every since we’ve started social distancing,” she said. “I’ve been very reliant on social media to communicate with people, but anyone can tell you that there’s nothing that compares to face-to-face conversations. It has been a blessing to have such a creative community that can help us come up with such out-of-the-box ideas that allow us to socialize without having to worry about the possibility of contracting the virus or infecting the people we care about.”

Ieyoub said the girls have been able to keep up with their classes because St. Louis has a set-up in which all students have laptops to access their assignments.

“We realize that not everyone is able to do that and we know it’s a blessing.”

They’ve both also been able to keep up with their ballet through online ballet classes.

She said these uncertain times with the pandemic have been worrisome for her just as they have been for other families.

“I try to keep my kids distracted from the news and focus on this time we are able to spend together. Oh, and of course there has been a lot of cleaning out closets. Each kid (she and her husband John have four children) had to tackle that fun job!”


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