Singer lifts care home's spirits from high atop fire dept. ladder truck

Singer Marcel Fokker wraps up his concert on a ladder truck for residents of De Gooyer in Amsterdam Oost. April 24, 2020
Singer Marcel Fokker wraps up his concert on a ladder truck for residents of De Gooyer in Amsterdam Oost. April 24, 2020NL Times

With reporting by Zack Newmark.

Cheerful smiles and loud applause won the day on Friday as residents and staff at a care home in Amsterdam Oost clamored onto their balconies to watch musician Marcel Fokker perform a mini-concert ending with the Neil Diamond classic, 'Sweet Caroline'. But this was no ordinary performance for Fokker.

Perched a few stories up the ladder of a fire department platform truck, the singer serenaded the residents and healthcare workers of De Gooyer, a Cordaan care home housing dozens of elderly people people with intellectual disabilities.

It was an exceptional display of public celebration since much of the Netherlands went into home isolation in mid-March. “We’re doing this because it’s so tough on people," Fokker told NL Times. "It’s important to give people another shoulder to lean on.”

Fokker's performance took place days after it became clear that people would continue to be banned from visiting care homes due to social distancing restrictions until at least May 20. Fokker said he teamed up with local firefighters from the Victor fire station on the Dapperstraat, a match made by the Amsterdam Oost district, to surprise the residents of the care facility and bring them cheer by showing them they definitely are not alone.

The performance also drew a small crowd of a few dozen people on the street below, many of whom joined the residents and carers in the festivity by singing along and cheering. Once the performance ended, the people on the street also applauded the healthcare workers of De Gooyer.

Friday was Fokker's third performance in front of a care home. He will work with a fire crew to perform two more sets on Tuesday.

"It’s really great being up there," Fokker said. "So many happy, smiling faces!"

Residents of De Gooyer in Amsterdam Oost applaud singer Marcel Fokker after a surprise concert. April 24, 2020
Residents of De Gooyer in Amsterdam Oost applaud singer Marcel Fokker after a surprise concert. April 24, 2020NL Times

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