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West Kelowna  

Kids with cancelled birthday parties get drive-by party parades

Drive-by party parade for kids

In a COVID-19 era defined by social distancing and self-isolation, one of the sacrifices families have to make is cancelling their children’s birthday parties.

But a group of West Kelowna residents have taken it upon themselves to ensure no kid misses out on a proper celebration of their birthday by organizing drive-by party parades.

In just three days, the Facebook group has grown to nearly 300 members and booked two weeks worth of birthday parades.

Co-organizers Jenn Sterling and Alida Steele say they have been overwhelmed by the level of interest and engagement from the West Kelowna community.

"It’s really neat to see all these people come out," says Sterling. "We don’t really know any of these people, and we don’t really know the birthday kids either, but it's something fun to do.

"I mean it’s hard enough as an adult, you sort of feel like 'oh, I shouldn’t get all worked up for my birthday' but inside we’re all like, it’s my day. For kids it’s hard to process ... 'it’s my birthday, why isn’t everybody coming over?' so this is the best we can do, and we’re getting phenomenal feedback." 

Between 24 and 26 cars attended each parade on Monday, the first day of drive-by parades.

On Tuesday, three parades were planned back-to-back, starting with eight-year-old Connor Ransom, who had to cancel his birthday party due to COVID-19 social distancing regulations.

Connor stood at the top of his driveway and waved as 45 cars filled with friends and strangers alike held up birthday banners and balloons. Some even brought their dogs out for the adventure. 

It felt "really good" to receive the love from all his friends and people he didn't even know, and made it worth not having a birthday party this year, says Connor. 

Making a birthday child feel the love is the main goal, and that's exactly what the group is doing, says Steele. 

On Mar. 23, she received a message of gratitude from the mother of one of the children who had a drive-by birthday party parade that day.

"She said: My son said 'mummy I cried but I wasn’t crying sad tears, I was crying happy tears,' and he said 'I didn’t know that you could cry happy tears.'

"When these kids have their parties planned and then they’re cancelled, how do we explain to them that they can’t have their party in this time? I love that this community has come together and we have been able to make these kids day's, and allow them the opportunity to really have the birthday they wouldn’t have been able to have for maybe a few months."

To get involved with the group or join an upcoming drive-by parade, visit the Facebook group page.



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