MERKEL, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Many residents in the tight-knit community of Merkel look forward to the its homecoming parade each year, but for residents in the nursing home, it’s much more than a parade. Sometimes, it’s their one chance a year to go outside. 

Resident Norma Byers told KTAB/KRBC she moved into the Merkel Nursing Center a little more than a year ago, and since then, her days have mainly consisted of watching television. She said she used to have therapy to look forward to, but due to some insurance problems, she no longer has that.

“We don’t have a lot to look forward to, and we look forward to that parade,” said Byers. “We need to be active, you know, have something to do.”

Upon learning that Merkel’s homecoming parade this year would be rerouted out of view for the nursing home’s residents, many were upset.

In a Facebook post from Merkel Police Department, it read that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) would require a permit to use North 1st Street in front of Merkel Nursing Center for the parade.

However, when KTAB/KRBC reached out to TxDOT for clarification, a representative said a permit would not be needed – but the route remains detoured from sight of the nursing home.

“My granddaughters were in the parade and now my great grandchildren are in the parade,” said Joyce Lee, President of the Residents Council at Merkel Nursing Center.

Another resident, Kay Bright, continued on the same train of thought, “Not a lot of stuff goes on here, and it’s just something to get excited about.”

Lisa Seymore, a Merkel Nursing Center employee told KTAB/KRBC she’s seen residents enjoy this for 20 years. 

“They usually come out this far, but this year they aren’t,” Seymore said with concern.

Another employee working in housekeeping, Anna Salinas, said her concern lied with lifting spirits of the residents, “They’re always in bed, and we try to get them out to see the parade.”

In the mean time, friend to many residents, Ann Payne, said she wants to find a solution to give them something to do on this day. 

“It may not be the exact parade that’s downtown, but it will be probably even better,” Payne said with hope.

KTAB/KRBC reached out to the Merkel Homecoming Committee to ask why the parade will continue on this updated route when a permit is not required. The committee had no comment.