More than a dozen cars were in the birthday train as it slowly moved past Heidi Glaister’s place of work on Williams Road Monday afternoon. Drivers honked and people shouted “happy birthday” from their vehicles as it went by. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Birthday parade rolls through Chilliwack spreading cheer to those on their special day amid COVID-19

People in the long line of cars drive by honking, singing ‘happy birthday’ and waving signs

It was a birthday that Heidi Glaister won’t soon forget, and it’s not just because she turned 60.

On March 30, Glaister was the recipient of the birthday parade.

A long line of cars, decked out with colourful balloons and “happy birthday” signs, made its way very slowly along Williams Road, past her place of work, where drivers honked and people in the vehicles shouted and cheered for her.

Glaister is just one of many people in Chilliwack who have had the birthday train come tooting past them with warm greetings.

With social distancing measures in place due to COVID-19, folks have been getting creative when it comes to “getting together” to celebrate special occasions, and this was one of those ways.

It was spearheaded by Farin Loewen of Chilliwack who was trying to come up with an idea to give back to her neighbourhood of Promontory.

“I thought ‘what a crummy time to have a birthday,’” Loewen said.

And then the idea came to her: “we should do a birthday parade.”

So she shared her thoughts with her family and they loved it. Then she mentioned it on a Promontory Facebook group where people said it was a fantastic idea and many wanted to take part.

She and her team did seven birthdays on the first day alone, on March 26. They’ve done a total of 17 so far, and even celebrated a one-year-old’s birthday.

“We honk, sing happy birthday, have noise makers and signs,” Loewen said.

People look out their window, step out onto their front porch, or wave from their apartment balcony as the parade of cars in the birthday train goes past their home.

Everyone has been very encouraging.

“It’s blown any expectation that I had,” she said. “The support and love has been so outrageously generous.”

She never expected it to get as “big and crazy” as it has.

And it’s not just for kids. Anyone can request the birthday parade to come by their house. Typically it’s a surprise and a family member sets it up by contacting Loewen. She then messages the family member to let them know when they’ll be driving by.

“Anyone who wants it, we will do it 100 per cent.”

Each day, she maps out the route for that day’s birthday spots. Then her team meets in their cars at a central location (like a school parking lot), they pop on their four-way flashers, and off they go.

“The only reason we wanted to do this was to bring joy to people,” she said.

Judging by the smile on Heidi Glaister’s face yesterday, it’s definitely working.

Those who want the birthday parade to come by and celebrate your family member’s (or your) special day, can contact Farin Loewen via Facebook Messenger.

RELATED: VIDEO: Young B.C. couple tie the knot in wake of COVID-19

Want to stay up-to-date on COVID-19? Click here.


 

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Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
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Heidi Glaister (left) smiles and laughs as friends and strangers drive by her place of work, Chilliwack Opportunity Society, to wish her a happy 60th birthday on Williams Road Monday afternoon. More than a dozen cars were in the birthday train as it slowly moved down the street with drivers honking and people shouting “happy birthday” from their vehicles. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

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