Covid-19 fails to ruin local birthday celebrations

This is a sign for one of the many birthday parades held in Oakville during the pandemic.

Hollie Kristine

This is a sign for one of the many birthday parades held in Oakville during the pandemic.

With the current social distancing order banning large gatherings, events such as birthdays, weddings, and even just spending time with friends has become near impossible. However, Oakville resident Hollie Kristine has set out to bring a little bit more joy into the community with the decision to host birthday parades.

Kristine, a mother of two in the Oakville community, has run a small embroidery boutique online since 2010, specializing in birthdays. “We create hundreds of custom birthday shirts for children every year,” she said.

One day a friend of hers showed her a parade from a different community and Kristine offered to head the group in Oakville. And now, since the second week after spring break when the community received the order to stay at home, Kristine began setting up parades for anyone who reached out to her, either by knowing her personally or by word of mouth from others. 

Kristine helps administer two different parades, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Either the day before or the day of the parade, information will be sent to the people who have requested to be a part of the program, such as the parade route, the family, and the meet up time. Once the parade starts cars drive by the individual’s house and pretty much just go crazy. People will honk, yell, cheer, ring bells, make signs, have balloons tied to their car, or even write on their car. 

“You also don’t have to know the individual,” said Simon Struemph, an OHS student who also participates in the parades. “If you see the parade, you’re welcome to just join right in.” 

The parades have been strictly for birthdays. However, other parades have been seen for weddings, but these were put on privately. Struemph said the reason he celebrates the birthdays is because “since everybody is stuck inside, it’s a way for the community to come together and support one another.”

Kristine’s goal was to be able to have celebrations during such a difficult time while maintaining the CDC’s guidelines. After about 30 minutes of people driving by, the parade typically ends and the average 20-plus cars go on their way. However being a part of the parade seems to be just as rewarding and fulfilling as being the birthday boy or girl. 

Struemph said, “It definitely makes me feel happier. It sort of addresses the fact that you’re making their day better or even their week and it keeps their birthday a special day even if they can’t spend it with family or friends.”