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Second line bands, scavenger hunts, parades: How people are finding creative ways to celebrate birthdays while social distancing

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With quarantine changing many aspects of people’s everyday lives, families have had to find unique ways to celebrate birthdays.

Since March, countless viral videos have shown the creative ways families and friends have not allowed the pandemic to stop them from celebrating the ones they love. From makeshift parades to virtual gatherings, it is clear that people are creating new traditions and bringing a little light into these dark times.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Jessie Grundy of Atlanta, Ga., had planned to go on a girls’ trip with her friends to New Orleans for her 40th birthday, but health concerns prevented the trip from materializing. Instead, the birthday girl decided she would be content spending time with her daughters. Little did she know, her friend hired event planner, Michelle Gainey of Lemiga Events, to create an experience she would never forget.

“[Jessie’s friend] reached out to me to see if I could bring a little bit of New Orleans to Jessie’s doorstep,” Gainey recalls.

And she definitely delivered. Grundy was caught off guard by a brass band as well as a parade of friends and family.

“I was surprised,” she says. “I was just overwhelmed. It was, it was just beautiful. You know, it just made me feel so loved and this second line band comes traipsing down and then my friends are just throwing beads and they had signs, that was pretty amazing.”

Another Atlanta family had to get creative to celebrate son Bryson Bell’s 7th birthday after previous party plans were no longer possible.

“One of my friend’s...her daughter went to a Zoom party and had some ideas for us, so we started making plans,” Bryson’s mother Shannon Doyle-Bell explains. “We wanted to Zoom because we wanted to include grandparents who are in Michigan. We wanted everybody to be able to come together.”

The Bell family even got creative with their party by adding a scavenger hunt where guests were encouraged to find items that start with the letter of Bryson’s name. And Shannon adds that she encouraged local guests to drive by the house with signs to celebrate the birthday boy.

“I was really surprised by the parade because I didn’t expect it to be like that because I had so much fun,” Bryson says.

Dale Bell, Bryson’s father, notes, “it just goes to show how much people love this guy here.”

Shannon says that Bryson’s birthday will definitely be one they will not forget.

“It ended up actually being a birthday that I think was one of the best birthdays for our family,” she says.

In Freehold, N.J., another birthday boy, Patrick Keune, got a parade of his own thanks to his mother, who wanted to make sure he was celebrated. According to Kathy Keune, local authorities announced that they would put together a parade with the help of the police and fire department for kids who would not be able to celebrate their birthday traditionally.

“Everybody ended up meeting at Town Hall and they come through with the fire trucks behind them and the sirens are all going,” she says.

Family and friends also joined the parade to show their love to Patrick, who turned 13.

“It was really embarrassing ‘cause I was sitting out there with undid hair and my shoes weren’t even on fully,” he says. “At first, I was angry at my mom, but at the end, I was happy to see my friends.”

The importance of reconnecting with the people they love has been a reoccurring theme for people that have had to experience their birthdays during quarantine.

“I don’t know if it’s luck or skill, but I’ve just collected the most wonderful group of people in my life and I feel pretty lucky to have met those people,” Grundy explains. “Open-minded, big-hearted, intelligent, committed people and what they did for me just reminded me how lucky I am.”

Video produced by Stacy Jackman.


For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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