After seeing her friend Melissa Young do the same in Cranbrook, Lisa Byman took it upon her self to start organizing birthday parades for people around Kimberley who can’t have parties due to social distancing protocols.
“When she headed that one up about the exact same time I thought, ‘oh Kimberley needs one of those,’ and poof we were born,” Byman explained to the Bulletin. “So I just kind of threw it together, I created a webpage and we had mutual friends of mine and Melissa’s join up with me, she’s been helping me coordinate the whole thing and take everyone’s names and addresses of course.”
Their friend works for Kimberley’s Spark Youth Centre, who asked if and how she could get the Centre involved.
”I said absolutely, anything for the kids,” Byman said. “So now the youth centre is involved. She comes out to every parade.”
They started the parades on April 1 and did three the first night, another two on the second and have three Friday evening, including a celebration for a 93-year-old resident at The Pines.
The first night exceeded their expectations for driver turnout, to the point where it created logistical problems.
“The first night was amazing, we probably had, I’m going to guess about 15 cars,” Byman recalled. “Last night’s was a whole lot less because the first night, of course, we were flustered, I didn’t expect more than four cars so I was going to just pull into he McKim parking lot a couple of times, but when I pulled into the parking lot, we tried to pull back out, but we were still waiting for the parade so we kind of got stuck.”
On Thursday night they were down to a more manageable seven cars or so, plus they had two smaller fire trucks leading the way.
“It was awesome, I’m hoping they come back out tonight,” Byman said.
The response so far as been overwhelmingly positive. Byman said a kind soul donate $50 which they’ve decided to put towards $10 gas cards.
“If anybody out there wants to come and join the parade but just can’t quite afford the gas, we’ve got them covered.”
The Youth Centre has also provided a bunch of decorations, so anyone who wants to decorate their vehicle but is lacking the supplies, and don’t want to go to a dollar store to maximize social distancing, they can get decorations dropped off on their door step, free of charge.
The kids, for whom this is all for, have been thrilled so far.
“The kids are ecstatic,” Byman said. “They’re ecstatic, standing on the side of the road, this parade is all for them, everybody’s honking, the fire trucks are going off. They’re pretty excited.”
”I think it brings the whole community together,” she continued. “We’re doing all of this for the kids to show them that their birthday matters, they can’t have their birthday parties, because we’re social distancing, they’re not allowed to have their friends over and have birthday parties so this is a way that we can get together, that we can have their family and friends join in the parade and wave to them so they still get to see them. Just gives me goosebumps.”
Friday evening will see the parade drivers meet at Coronation Park at the bottom of the hospital hill at 6:45 p.m. From there they will proceed to the Pines and Garden View to take part in the 7 p.m. honorary cheer for healthcare workers, and from there they will head to their birthday destinations, for people aged 93, 18 and 13.