Physical distancing measures in B.C. have led large gatherings, including birthday parties to be put on hold, but a convoy of decorated cars has been rolling through Cranbrook, honking their horns for children and youth outside of their homes to help them celebrate their special day.
Organizer of Cranbrook Birthday Parades, Melissa Young said the idea came after seeing her 12-year-old son struggling with not being able to have his own birthday party.
“I had to keep reminding him of why it was so important we don’t have a party,” said Young. “I saw in other cities where teachers were driving by and saying hi to their students and it occurred to me that that was maybe something that would be fun for kids, to get a few people and drive by and acknowledge their birthdays and see if there are family members that want to drive by that couldn’t be with them to make them feel special, because my son wasn’t the only one that that was feeling this way.”
Young created a Facebook group called Cranbrook Birthday Parades on March 26, which gained over 600 members in just four days.
The rapid growth of the group with drivers and people asking for their kid’s birthdays to be acknowledged surprised Young, prompting her to get other people involved in organizing the parades.
“My vision was maybe 10 or 15 drivers kind of giving a bit of an acknowledgement to some kids. I think it’s just an amazing community, we’re all in this together and we’re shut into our homes and a lot of us aren’t able to see our friends and family or get out,” said Young. “People will honk and wave at their neighbours and each other and it’s become more than just celebrating birthdays, I think it’s celebrating the strong community and everybody wanting to band together and get through this.”
Young has been leading parades through town past specific houses to help the youngsters celebrate their birthdays at a distance.
The parades have also been led past healthcare centres to show support to those working on the front-lines of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Young added that the community response has been positive if a bit overwhelming, and is asking that divers who wish to join in sign up through the Facebook page.
More: Cranbrook Birthday Parades (Facebook)
“We’re finding that as we drive through town, people will just come and join us, which is great, but the numbers are getting a bit out of hand,” said Young. “We had to kind of coordinate it by the seat of our pants and figure out what works.”
Young added that the birthday parades are an easy way to brighten the day for Cranbrook’s residents.
“I think people want to feel like they’re part of something and they’re doing something positive for the community right now, and this is a simple way we can do that for at least a few people.”
Similar parades are also being coordinated in Kimberley and they are currently looking for drivers.
More: Kimberley Birthday Parades (Facebook)
In Invermere, the local fire department has also been venturing throughout the community and offering parades for those with birthdays.