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.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


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)

Just Posted

Chilliwack teachers and EAs concerned with health and safety plans

As schools get ready to open, many worry measures won’t be enough to protect students from COVID-19

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak declared over

Dr. Bonnie Henry hails work done to halt outbreak, which saw more than 130 people contract COVID-19

Police say Chilliwack driver who flipped car on overpass Sunday was impaired

Witnesses say rollover incident was preceded by vehicle and motorcycles speeding all over town

VIDEO: Chilliwack Tourism invites visitors to dream now and explore later

Celebrating Tourism Week with a look at Bridal Veil Falls near Chilliwack

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Most Read