Around four times a day, a group of strangers gathers to wish others a happy birthday, from a distance.
Their goal is to spread positivity and nurture a sense of community amidst uncertain times.
On Saturday, the group met in a parking lot, then drove by the house of Simon Thicke, who was celebrating his third birthday. One by one the cars passed, each with their windows down wishing him a happy birthday. Simon and his family watched and waved.
Simon’s neighbour was also celebrating her third birthday, and came out on the patio to watch.
Although some in the parade of cars knew the family, most did not. Some came just to show their support.
“Great support by the community with everything that’s going on,” said Simon’s father, Ryan. “It really shows how people come together.”
The Facebook group, Penticton’s Drive By Birthday Parade, has been in operation for just one week, but has already attracted close to 300 members. The idea of community-driven drive-by birthday parties was pitched by organizer Leanne Bauder to the community of Penticton on social media, and was very warmly received.
Many youth have been unable to celebrate their birthdays due to COVID-19 social distancing regulations.
In the Facebook group, those who have a child with an upcoming birthday party post a request, and organizers put out a call-out for participants.
Bauder says the support shown from the community has been tremendous. Each birthday request attracts about 12 t0 18 cars of people. After meeting near the residence they drive past, windows down, posters and party horns ready.
“We had four stops today,” said Bauder on Monday. “They were just so excited. The kids ranged from 7 to 14, the 14-year-old especially was so excited.”
Four successful birthday parties today, five more scheduled for tomorrow.
Despite working full time, Bauder said she makes it work, “for the kids.” She said it’s important for community to come together and support each other during uncertain times.
“We’re all in this together,” she said.
Bauder hopes that more people see the Facebook group and continue to join it.
To join, click this link