In 1981, Emmet Koelsch began the car drop tradition at Koelsch Communities, being a vintage car buff himself, he knew firsthand what an impact a piece of the past could have on memory care residents. Since then, each Koelsch community that opens, there is a car drop ceremony where a vintage car is lowered by crane into the courtyard of the new community. Olivia Koelsch, Director of Community Relations, and granddaughter to Emmet, is now responsible for the celebration aspect of carrying on her grandfather’s legacy.
Koelsch suspends a car in the air and safely puts it in the courtyard at each of its communities. At Deer Ridge, their most recent opening, it was a 1952 Chevrolet 3100 pickup truck. It’s a form of reminiscent therapy that encourages memory through nostalgia. Koelsch says the car selections are very intentional, mostly from the 50s era, and they are selected to engage the senses, which is crucial in memory care. She stresses that the cars aren’t just for looks, but rather for residents to really engage with, touch, sit in, it brings them back to a time they can remember, or ignites their senses.
The beloved Car Drop is not just for Koelsch residents and staff, but for all members of the surrounding community as well. Part of Koelsch’s job is to really make this a celebratory, engaging, family affair event. For people outside of the community, Koelsch says, “it is a unique and nice way to introduce people to senior living and memory care, it’s more than just a car drop.” It is not every day people see a vintage car craned through the sky, and residents, staff, and family members alike, love coming together for this signature event.
Koelsch Communities will continue to carry on this tradition, and the cars will continue to adapt to meet the generation of residents they need to serve. What started as Emmet’s love for vintage cars, has developed into a memory care tool, and celebration for each and every Koelsch Community.