For the West Kelowna children with birthdays during the COVID-19 pandemic, car parades brought pure joy and signs of love.
For the community, they brought a way to be together, while remaining apart.
But moving forward, the parents in West Kelowna who pioneered birthday car parades have now hit the brakes.
“We just decided last night: we’re going to have to end,” organizer Jennifer Sterling said.
The decision to cancel the parade was prompted by Wednesday’s message from the prime minister, she said.
“Staying home is your way to serve,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had told Canadians during his morning speech.
The parents took his words to heart.
“Our federal government is saying, ‘Do your civic duty, stay home’,” Sterling said.
Lisa McMurray, who also participated in the car parades, said she didn’t want to look back with regret.
“As things grow, we don’t have time for hindsight,” she said.
“I don’t want to be one of those people that a week from now continued on and then went ‘Oh, guess we should have stopped last week because now look what happened.”
Sterling said the decision was a tough one.
“My boy has been asking Alexa since Boxing Day, ‘How many days until my birthday, Alexa?’” she said.
The mother has now had to cancel her soon-to-be seven-year-old’s birthday plans twice.
“His face dropped when I told him the parades are cancelled,” she said. “And he’s like, ‘But not mine, right’? And I’m like, ‘No, all of them, we’re cancelling all of them’.”
Sterling estimates that somewhere between 60 to 80 kids had been on the receiving end of a birthday parade.
“It just kept growing and growing and more people kept coming and coming,” she said. “And it was just fantastic. It was so amazing.”
Parents are now shifting gears, and their kids are donning superhero costumes for virtual parties.
They’re also looking at putting together a virtual parade. Families are recording a short drive-by of ‘happy birthday’ honking and hollering at the end of their yard, and they plan to edit them together.
Sterling suggested to her son that they aim for a summer celebration.
“I said, ‘You know what, if we do a party later in the summer or in the fall, that means you have less time to wait until next year’s party,’” she said. “And his eyes just lit up, and he was back on with it.”
“Kids are so resilient. I think it’s parents that take it more to heart,” she added.View link »