Neighbors plan surprise “social distance” birthday parade for young boy


HASLETT, Mich. (WLNS)– Social distancing means canceled plans for many people, like weddings, fundraisers and parties.

A group of neighbors found a way to celebrate a young boy’s birthday.

The Johnston family had big plans for their oldest son Benjamin’s eighth birthday, filled with friends and family. That was before they started social distancing because of COVID-19.

“Prior to that, he was going to have some friends over,” his mother Natalie Johnston says. “We were supposed to go see “Dog Man: The Musical,” but you know that got canceled. And then we were going to have a birthday party this weekend with our extended family.”

His parents got creative, and what started as a joke in a text thread with neighbors turned into his birthday parade. It gave Benjamin’s friends a way to wish him a happy birthday from a distance.

“He had no idea. He was totally surprised,” his mom says. “I just told him “Let’s go outside and play,” and then he started seeing this line of cars and he was like “What is that?””

It wasn’t the party they first had in mind, but it was the safest way to celebrate.

“We’re trying to do our part to help, you know, protect the people who are immunocompromised or maybe in the higher risk groups. So that’s why we’re staying home even though it’s hard.”

The Johnston’s say they’re ready to return the favor for their neighbors.

“Some of their kids have birthdays coming up in the next month or so. And so we’re talking about maybe reciprocating and doing it again for their kids, because it was a lot of fun.”

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