British Columbia

'It really lifted my spirits': As COVID-19 shuts down birthday parties, kids get drive-by parades instead

Organizer of Cranbrook Birthday Parades Melissa Young said she decided to start these parades in her community after her son was having a hard time not being able to celebrate his 12th birthday.

Organizer Melissa Young of Cranbrook, B.C., says they're up to 50 drivers honking in decorated cars and trucks

Melissa Young organizes birthday parades for people in Cranbrook, B.C. who can't celebrate with friends because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Melissa Young/Facebook)

Many people celebrating birthdays during the COVID-19 pandemic have had to postpone parties or opt for something more low-key because of physical distancing orders from the B.C. government.

But one Cranbrook, B.C., woman is still hoping to make birthdays special by organizing parades for children who are staying home. 

Melissa Young told Radio West host Sarah Penton she decided to start these parades in her community after her son was having a hard time not being able to celebrate his 12th birthday.

Young said anyone who wants to participate in the parades all meet at a specific location in their cars, then they drive off together blasting music and honking their horns while waving at the child celebrating their birthday.

Kaylee's Sweet 16

Young helped Kaylee Davis celebrate her Sweet 16 this past weekend. Davis said she didn't expect anything and was feeling down after she had to cancel her party but was happy to see the parade.

"When they passed by it really lifted my spirits, it was so special," Davis said over the phone.

The two have never met in person.

"It was really cool to be able to brighten her day," Young said. 

Kaylee Davis, pictured here, says she was looking forward to celebrating her Sweet 16 with friends before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. But she says the parade was a really cool experience. (Kaylee Davis)

Other parades

Young said they've also been driving by the local hospital and assisted living homes to lift the spirits of healthcare workers and patients who can't have visitors. 

It's become so popular, Young said they now have professional lead drivers and help from the RCMP to guide two groups of about 25 drivers each through different sections of town.

She said the first night they had three parades and now they're up to ten. Even though it's busy, Young is happy to do it.

"I just know we'll all get through this as a community."

With files from Radio West


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