Lindsey and Nate Hallowell reach for a bag of airborne candy Sunday morning during the Phoenix Academy of Martial Arts Easter candy toss in Auburn. The candy was thrown to the children from a safe distance by their karate teachers. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Donna and Harry Harris, owners of the Phoenix Academy of Martial Arts, usually host an annual Easter candy hunt for the karate students at the dojo on Center Street in Auburn.

RJ and Sophie Bourgeois stand through the sunroof Sunday morning to catch Easter candy as their mother, Brianna, keeps an eye out for flying treats during the Phoenix Academy of Martial Arts Easter candy toss. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

This year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, Donna and Harry wracked their brains to come up with a way to get everyone together while still keeping students separated and safe.

“Everybody’s starting to go a little stir crazy,” Harry Harris said.

The two karate instructors set up an impromptu parade Sunday morning, but with a twist: They stayed at the end of their driveway in Auburn and tossed candy to their students as they filed by in their families’ cars.

An area at the end of their driveway was cordoned off to keep children and karate teachers at least 6 feet apart, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

The plan was for the students to get out of the cars and step up to the designated area, where the karate teachers would throw candy into the children’s outstretched Easter baskets.

However, within the first few cars, the teachers began throwing candy to the children directly through the cars’ windows and sunroofs, much to the students’ delight.

Donna and Harry Harris throw candy Sunday morning to their neighbors during an Easter candy parade in front of their house in Auburn. The candy giveaway observed social distancing guidelines recommended by federal and state health officials. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“We needed this as much as they did,” Harry Harris said. “They’re our family.”

Like many other organizations, the Phoenix Academy of Martial Arts has moved instruction online. The studio has been sharing recorded classes using Google Classroom, and the students send back videos of themselves practicing. They then receive feedback and instructions.

“It’s caused us to be a little bit more creative in our teaching,” said Donna Harris, who plans to keep an online element to the couple’s program when the students are back at the dojo.

Asked what they are looking forward to, Donna Harris said: “Normal would be good. Back to normal.”

That said, the fun and energy that came with throwing candy to their students might be too good to give up.

“This might end up being our new Easter tradition,” Donna Harris said.

Madisyn Chilafoe approaches the designated rope barrier Sunday morning to catch treats being thrown by karate instructor Donna Harris at an Easter candy toss hosted by Phoenix Academy of Martial Arts in Auburn. Families drove up in front of the driveway and stood behind a rope while Harris and her husband, Harry, tossed candy into their baskets. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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