Howling for healthcare workers: How residents on one Cleveland Heights street show their support

As the spooky Halloween holiday approaches, complete with ghouls, monsters, and the occasional werewolf, a street in Cleveland Heights has been howling for months.


When lockdowns started last spring due to COVID-19, people across the world began coming together to make music from their homes with everything from banging pots and pans, playing instruments, blasting sound systems—or even singing— to collectively show support for frontline and health care workers.


One evening in late April Theodore R. Wilson stepped onto his porch and howled to the sky to show support for frontline and health care workers.Residents on Corydon Road also decided to do their part. On a cool evening in late April, at precisely at 8 p.m., Theodore R. Wilson stepped onto his porch and howled to the sky.


“I am not sure how howling can impact [COVID-19],” says Wilson. “But since the number of people contracting the virus continues, we need all vehicles to remind people that the virus will not go away unless we are hyper-vigilant.”


Wilson’s neighbor across the street heard his howls and the next evening there were two howlers on Corydon. Quickly, the word spread throughout the block and the following night there weren’t just two people howling. There were more than 20 neighbors who came out of their homes, looked to the sky, and released their howls together exactly at 8 p.m.


For the past seven months the residents of Corydon Road, complete with high pitched, low baritone, and every note in between can be heard echoing down the street as the neighbors show support for the tireless duty healthcare workers have been providing since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.


The howls are not only reserved for humans, however. Canine neighbors also have lent their voices to what is now a nightly tradition.


Dave Lucas and Amy Keating, with their German shepherd/malamute dog Dagwood, all participate in the recognition. Dagwood has the perfect pitched howl to add to the support. “Who doesn't want to join in,” asks Keating. “Plus, it's been a chance to experience community with our neighbors during a very isolating time.”


Dagwood’s neighbor Willow, a bluetick coonhound also joins in on the howl. As a hound dog, Willow’s baying can be heard throughout the neighborhood—letting everyone know it’s time to join in and show support.


“While I may not howl every night, I definitely support my neighbors’ activism,” says Willow’s owner Nikhil Chand.


Corydon resident Preeti Pachaury often welcomes socially-distanced passersby to the street before the nightly howl.At first, residents living on the surrounding neighborhood streets didn’t know what to make of the sounds coming from Corydon Road. One neighborhood resident even posted an inquiry on as to what the sounds were and from where they were coming.

One street over, one Essex Road resident says she can hear the howls every night and doesn’t mind at all. “I was sitting on my front porch, when I heard the unmistakable howl of Willow, I then thought I heard some human voices howling,” the Essex resident says. “It was the next day when I learned of the significance of the howl and that it was a ritual.”


Back on Corydon, Preeti Pachaury, who works in healthcare IT management, often welcomes socially-distanced passersby to the street before the nightly howl.


“COVID-related distancing needs [have] kept socializing with neighbors and friends to a minimum,” says Pachaury. “This is a great way of connecting with others passing by as they asked about the howling and joined in once they heard the reason.”


Some nights, only two or three howls that can be heard, but other nights, the whole block seems to be alive with loud howling in support.


As the pandemic continues and the winter approaches, some neighbors say they plan to continue the auditory support for as long as necessary.


“I would like to think it will last as long as the epidemic lasts but, more likely, it will run its own course—whatever that may be,” Wilson predicts. “While I enjoy hearing my neighbors participate, there have been a few nights where I howled alone and that is fine. I am not doing it for them.”

Read more articles by Rebecca Groynom.

Rebecca Groynom is a freelance writer, photographer, and resident of Cleveland Heights. In addition to writing for Fresh Water Cleveland, she has been published in several scientific journals, and her photography has been showcased in exhibitions throughout the US.