With social—or rather, physical—distancing measures in place globally to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, evenings in the Village of Clinton have been a bit quieter than usual. That changed on the last Friday of March, when the community came together for a special celebration.
“[Friday] March 27 is Mary Burrage’s 93rd birthday and we are socially isolating,” wrote Village of Clinton Councillor Sandra Burrage in a local Facebook group late on the evening of March 26.
“I was trying to figure out something to acknowledge her day. I thought of the car parade honking past her house. Would anyone be interested in doing this for her?” Burrage asked.
Before long, dozens of residents commented on the post, agreeing to join in a birthday parade to celebrate not just Mary Burrage’s 93rd birthday, but Alice Crosson’s 97th birthday as well.
Just after 6 p.m. on March 27, more than 30 vehicles headed out from Reg Conn Park to celebrate the pair’s birthdays by presenting them with a drive-by parade that included plenty of honking and hollering.
Trucks and cars of all makes and models followed a short route through the Village while smiling community members waved to each other and shouted greetings. There were streamers and balloons fashioned to some of the vehicles, and children held creative signs that read “Happy Birthday, Mary and Alice!”
Parades usually happen just once a year in Clinton, during the town’s annual May Ball weekend, but this spring things are different everywhere.
“Thanks from the bottom of my heart to all of you,” said Coun. Burrage after the birthday parade concluded Friday night. “I love this town so much. Mary was tickled pink!”
Nancy Rempel said that Crosson was also grinning from ear to ear when the parade stopped by her house to wish her a happy birthday. The event brought many participants to tears.
In some respects, the community seems to have used this opportunity as much more than a quick birthday celebration. Afterward, the physical distancing continued, but connections increased for the evening as everyone involved got outside for some fresh air.
The parade stopped by both Burrage’s and Crosson’s homes, but it turns out the two women weren’t the only locals celebrating birthdays, so the event was well-timed indeed.
Clinton residents Trent Huggins and Megan Francis loved the opportunity to get their two young daughters involved by decorating both family vehicles with balloons and streamers before heading to the park.
“I loved the faces of the ladies [when the parade came by]. It melted my heart,” said Francis. She and Huggins were glad to come together with the town to help brighten someone else’s day, she said.
Now Burrage and other community members are wondering if they should make the celebratory parade a Friday night tradition. With event cancellations and postponements continuing in Clinton and beyond, this last-minute idea just might become a much-needed recurrence in the community.