New Brunswick

Physically distant surprise birthday comes with twist to help neighbour in need

Birthdays in New Brunswick certainly look a little different these days.

Taymouth residents celebrated Parker Layton's 13th in socially distance style

Vehicles took turns stopping while people raced to drop parcels at the end of the driveway in Taymouth. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Birthdays in New Brunswick certainly look a little different these days. 

With physical distancing rules in place due to COVID-19, a 13th birthday party for Parker Layton of Taymouth was off the table. 

Instead his family opted for something a bit out of the ordinary, with the hope of helping a neighbour in need. 

To celebrate the beginning of Parker's teenage years, around 30 vehicles, carrying family and friends, gathered at a local church decorated with balloons and banners.  

And at noon sharp, they paraded by Parker's house, honking and surprising the new teen who had normally hosted a party each year.  

Parker Layton watched as around 30 vehicles drove by his home honking loudly and delivering gift bags and boxes to the end of his driveway. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Each vehicle took turns stopping while drivers and passengers raced out to place gift bags and boxes at the end of his driveway as Parker and his family waved from a distance. 

"It was still fun," said Parker. 

Around 30 vehicles prepared for Parker Layton's birthday parade in the parking lot of a local church in Taymouth on Tuesday. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

But the twist in this story lies in what was these brightly wrapped boxes and bags contained. 

Those gifts were meant for someone else. 

Around 30 vehicles sporting balloons and streamers took part in the 13th birthday celebrations (Shane Fowler/CBC)

While there were some goodies for Parker, most of the boxes and bags contained groceries, new clothes, bedding, canned goods and cash donations. 

Earlier Parker had asked his mom to tell people, instead of gifts, they should make a donation to help his neighbour, Gary Douglass. 

Instead of presents, people brought donations to the surprise birthday party of this Taymouth teenager for a man from the same community who lost his house in a fire. 1:22

Two weeks ago, a fire destroyed Douglass' home and everything in it. 

Only his horses and cows remain at his homestead. 

Douglass himself is now in the hospital with tonsillitis. 

Gary Douglass lost his home due to a fire earlier this month. He's currently in the hospital with tonsillitis. (Nancy Gill/Go Fund Me)

"He is a lifelong resident of Taymouth," said Nikki Layton, Parker's mother. "A huge animal lover. Quiet man. Keeps to himself. He's just an all-around nice guy who had hard luck a couple of weeks ago. So why not help out the best we can?" 

Nikki Layton, Parker's mother, says the community of Taymouth always comes together to help a neighbour in need. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

The community had already organized a small fundraising campaign to help Douglass get back on his feet once he leaves the hospital, but the Laytons wanted to do more. 

"So, we suggested if anybody wanted to, they could bring food donations, personal care items, and drop them off at the gate while they're honking," said Nikki Layton. 

The home of Gary Douglass burned to the ground earlier this month, destroying everything inside. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

About the Author

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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