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Officials not planning to intervene in drive-by birthday celebrations


There’s no such thing as a normal routine these days. That applies to everything from work to getting out for groceries, not to mention the many activities that simply aren’t on the menu right now.

Our social lives have also been derailed to a large extent, though we’re finding ways to express ourselves for milestones such as birthdays and anniversaries, along with new outlets such as showing gratitude to frontline workers. For the time being at least, a popular option has been the drive-by and even impromptu parades.

Online forums have been abuzz with announcements of unorthodox birthday celebrations, for instance.

In Elmira, Wesley Jakeman turned four years old last Saturday, marking it in a non-traditional way. The family has always celebrated birthdays in a big way; however, with physical distancing measures put in place, celebrating has become increasingly difficult. For the big day, they had friends and family drive by, balloons attached to their cars, to express their best wishes.

“All four-year-olds can be quite excited about turning four and having a birthday, except he can’t have a birthday party,” said Wesley’s aunt, Becci Callfas of the workaround selected over the weekend.

Breslau also saw a drive-by birthday earlier that same day, this one for Benny, who just turned 8. The community came together and even was able to bring a fire truck, police cruisers and a Ferrari to drive by the house.

While certainly not deemed essential outings, such celebrations are not in imminent danger of being shut down in the region, though other municipalities such as Burlington have issued a ban on such parades of more than five vehicles.

“My understanding of these are they not necessary trips, but they don’t have a destination. People are getting out of their car, participating in a parade and going back to their houses. I think it does serve a useful purpose,” Mike Murray, the Region of Waterloo’s chief administrative officer, said of the practice.

For now, such displays aren’t a concern here, said Murray, noting the importance of balancing safety with our needs as social beings.

“It’s a tricky balance between encouraging people to stay home and also recognizing the social needs we have,” he said.

“This would be one of those things is a really low-risk undertaking and is probably helpful with in terms of some psychological well-being, for both the participants and the people being recognized.”

The region will, however, be monitoring the situation, so there could be changes in the future. For now, he asks that people organizing such celebrations refrain from large gatherings in parking lots and similar areas often used to stage parades.

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