Birthday parades connect communities

Streamers, balloons, tinsel and signs decorate the vehicles as they slowly drive past the homes of the birthday celebrators in Lake Elsinore. Valley News/Courtesy photo

In a delightful paradox, “isolation” has actually proven to be the catalyst in connecting communities through celebration. While we can no longer gather together in person, the spirit of celebration is alive and well – and growing. Local communities such as Canyon Hills, Tuscany Hills and Lake Elsinore have stepped up, sharing in each other’s joyous occasions and most especially bringing cheer to those with birthdays in the local neighborhoods during this time of “no parties.”

What started as small groups of friends has burgeoned into quite a spectacle. With noise makers, horns honking, “happy birthday” songs and greetings streaming out of car windows, the organized parades of well-wishers is something to behold. Streamers, balloons, tinsel and signs decorate the vehicles as they slowly drive past the homes of the birthday celebrators. Voices of happy adults and gleeful children mingle together in a joyous cacophony of excited greetings for those with birthdays, who wave back, dance to the music and quite often, shed tears of joy and amazement at the outpouring of care and goodwill from others in the community – often people who they may have never met, yet who understand their partyless plight only too well themselves.

Dawnielle Shubin-Villa began a birthday parade group in Canyon Hills after she saw a similar celebration which brought tears to her eyes. When her daughter turned 13, Shubin-Villa connected with members in the community to plan a birthday parade.

“The response… exceeded any hopes or expectations I could have ever imagined,” Shubin-Villa said.

Now, the parades continue to thrill dozens of others in the community.

“Something so small has brought so much joy in these uncertain times,” she said.

While not all 50 members of current parade group can make it to each birthday they hear of, a good number of them do, and the group is growing.

I recall the notion that “challenging times pull a community together,” and once again, this adage has proven true. While we may not be able to do our “normal” activities, we are not without chances to participate in new ones just as fulfilling, and perhaps as many have admitted, even more so.

One parade participant exclaimed, “My children love this, and they look forward to being in each [parade] so much.”

Another driver agreed, “This is such a beautiful opportunity to teach our children to get joy out of cheering others,” and yet another added, “these (parades) have been the biggest blessing in our life right now.”

If you are interested in creating a birthday parade group in your community, hit social media, start with people you know, they’ll likely add people they know, and so on and in no time, you will have a nice list of birthday parade connections – and birthdays needing celebrating. Check with local law enforcement to ensure that you are aware of any restrictions that might apply. This is as great a time as any to come together and celebrate each other’s “isolation birthdays” with as much fun and exuberance as we can. After all, we’re in this together.

Hefsiba Jen Cohen

Tuscany Hills, Lake Elsinore