A Rimbey mother is planning birthday celebrations for local kids, who had to cancel their plans due to the current social distancing mandates around COVID-19.
On April 4, the first celebration took place: a small parade which went by a couple home where children with recent birthdays lived.
Self-isolation and social distancing can be confusing and hard to handle, especially for young children, said Kelly McLean, the organizer of Rimbey’s Birthday Parades says.
“Kids often get the common cold or common flu and then they get better and everything is fine, so it is hard for them to understand why this isn’t going away and why they can’t go play with their friends,” McLean said.
McLean says she came up with the idea after seeing a similar story printed in a B.C. newspaper.
With a son who has a birthday in April, she says the birthday parade idea was purely selfish.
“We had already bought our party decorations and sent out invitations and then all this happened. While we were mourning the loss of the party, a friend sent me the newspaper article, and I thought it was a great idea,” McLean said.
When she put the idea out to a local Facebook group, she received an immediate response, many were interested in being a part of the parade, or had children who would love a birthday parade.
For the first parade had roughly 10 cars, all decorated, participate.
Amy Burghardt, whose daughter Ella recently turned 5, said the parade’s vehicles honked and people shouted happy birthday, as they drove by.
“We stood on our deck as the parade went by… It was really incredible,” Burghardt said.
The parade route went by the homes for two local kids who have recently had a birthday.
McLean says the next parade, which is planned for April 18, will be planned so that it will go passed the homes of other children with birthdays between April 4 and 18.
“It was like the best thing ever [for Ella], the parade really made her feel special,” Burghardt said, adding the parade made her feel a little emotional as well.
McLean says the point of the parades is to bring a bit of joy into other’s lives, and to do so safely.
Each participant stays safely in their vehicle, and no candy is thrown on to the sidewalks.
She says the birthday parades are not a reason to get our of your cars.
“We want to do this safely, and to observe social distancing, and we can do that while making other people happy,” McLean said.
The plan is to continue with birthday parades throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, so long as there is it is safe to do so.
McLean says the parades will likely always happen on a weekend.
“As long as we have this little bit of freedom and can do it safely, I’ll continue to bring this little bit of happiness,” said McLean.
Burghardt says she is grateful to the residents of Rimbey and for those who took part in the parade.
“Rimbey is such a great place, and the people are amazing and so willing to help other,” Burghardt said.
Rimbey is not the only place doing birthday parades for children. A group has started in Sylvan Lake to help bring joy to local kids on their birthday during this difficult time.