At 9 a.m. sharp Saturday, Amy Thompson and Jon Lynch stood at their front stoop, filled their lungs and began to sing.

As the first bars of the Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” drifted through Deering Corner, windows and front doors began to open. Neighbors, keeping a safe distance, appeared around sidewalk corners. A mother and her children stopped to listen.

Taking a cue from Italians on pandemic lockdown, the Portland residents serenaded one another to beat the isolation imposed by social-distancing measures meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“The hardest thing is that so many more people are home, and so many more people have free time, and I can’t get out and connect with them,” said Thompson, a teacher who organizes community events like last summer’s Porchfest.

At its peak, the sing-along, organized by the Deering Center Neighborhood Association, brought perhaps 10 people outside the Thompson-Lynch house and others in the neighborhood. More people joined in from windows and stoops. None came any closer than 6 feet, except for family members.

“This is the first time I’ve seen so many people out in the neighborhood, and I’ve lived here 20 years,” said Bruce Koharian, who sang from across the street.

“Maybe this is a wake-up call,” said Koharian, a retired teacher and track coach.

In the 1950s, Koharian was growing up in the nearby Woodfords neighborhood. Everyone there knew one another, he said, and if someone needed help, a neighbor stepped in with it.

“Maybe it will help us to remember there are things more important than our cellphones,” he said of the current crisis. “Maybe it can bring us together, because we’re so divided.”

Social-distancers around America have been following the Italian example in recent days, with songs wafting from windows, porches and rooftops in Boston and Chicago.


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