One Good Thing: Toddlers in Norwich sad to cancel birthday party amid COVID-19 outbreak, local fire dept. surprises them with parade, gifts


Video: Stephanie Swindell via Facebook

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — Two toddlers celebrating their birthdays this week in Norwich got a big surprise from their community and first-responders after they had to cancel their birthday party amid coronavirus concerns.

Mom Stephanie Swindell says she’s “completely and totally blown away by our community” after her call out for “some kind of sunshine” on Facebook was answered Tuesday.

Swindell’s two toddlers, 3-year-old Nora and 4-year-old Jameson, were looking forward to their “first real birthday party” this week. But the festivities had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the toddlers were bummed.

“To brighten their spirits,” Swindell wrote on Facebook Saturday, “I am asking friends and family (who are local to us) to please drive by and honk and wave with a ‘happy birthday’ message so they can feel special….maybe a car parade at 3:30pm.”

Stephanie Swindell sends call out

The day could have been incredibly sad, but then, not only did their community come through, but the city’s first-responders!

East Great Plains Fire Department drove by with engines and ambulances, lights on and horns honking. A couple of firemen got out of one engine and delivered fire fighter helmets (the plastic kid kind) filled with candy the the birthday boy and girl in the family’s front yard as the Swindell family watched.

Swindell was shocked: “Somehow, the department got word and made it an actual birthday parade. Amazing!!”

In a statement on Facebook, the fire department said, they “learned…that two young children in our district were having birthdays, but due to virus, they weren’t able to celebrate. The parents asked family and friends to come by and have a birthday parade. When members of the fire department found out, we knew we needed to brighten some young children’s day for their birthday.”

The department explained they contacted the Norwich Police Department and American Ambulance Service, Inc. to participate.

“Hope Nora and Jameson and a great birthday parade. Happy Birthday from the East Great Plain Vol Fire Co.,” they wrote.

Behind the emergency vehicles was a line of cars containing friends and family with home-made signs saying, “Happy Birthday” to the kids.

WATCH: The East Great Plains Fire Department video of the surprise birthday parade for Jameson and Nora

Swindell said afterword, “what could have been an incredibly sad day turned into a precious memory that we will never forget!”

I just wanted to share because this mama’s heart is so warm and I’m completely blown away by the kindness of our community. It’s really ironic that a pandemic that is supposed to be keeping us 6 feet apart has brought us closer.

– Stephanie Swindell/Norwalk mom

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