Kitimat residents find unique ways to celebrate birthdays while practicing social distancing

The Northern Sentinel spoke with a number of parents whose children had birthdays recently

It’s hard to feel connected when everything seems so fractured. This has been especially true for a number of children celebrating their birthdays in Kitimat over the past weeks.

With COVID-19 presenting a unique challenge with regard to social distancing measures and bans on large gatherings, the closure of most non-essential businesses, a number of parents have found some unique ways to still bring some cheer to their child’s special day.

Lori Habinger told The Northern Sentinel when news of social distancing first came out her daughter Clair, who recently turned 10, wanted to co-operate with the measures and asked if she could just have something like a sleepover with a close friend as opposed to a more traditional party.

Then the news came out in mid-March recommending things like sleepovers and playdates be postponed for the time being as part of social distancing measures.

“We all watch the news together, and when it was said no friends, no sleepovers, it kind of clicked with her,” said Habinger.

Like any 10-year-old would be, Clair was devastated about the realization she would have to cancel her party.

But shortly after the announcement a close friend of Habinger had an idea: get a group of people together on social media to meet (in seperate cars to maintain social distancing) and drive over to Habinger’s house to surprise Clair with a performance of Happy Birthday.

“When they showed up I yelled at her to come look out at the window and I opened the front door and as soon as they started singing she just cracked.”

Habinger said she is planning a more traditional party once social distancing measures are relaxed enough to allow for it. She and Clair have since attended another party held in the same manner as the one for her daughter.

A number of other individuals also sent messages in to The Northern Sentinel letting us know about how the pandemic has affected their children’s birthdays. Many said they used technology to help fill in the gaps imposed by COVID-19 restrictions.

Gabby Goffinet said when her son turned 7 on March 25 they used FaceTime with family to video chat and had a number of friends yelling drive-by happy birthday messages to maintain social distancing. A number of neighbours also put happy birthday signs up in their windows, with one writing a chalk message.

Angie Campbell said she bought an ice cream cake for her daughter’s 28th birthday party on March 31 well in advance as she was uncertain whether or not the store would be operating when the time came for the party.

She added that it’s been tough because her daughter had been counting down the days to the party since just after Christmas and was really disappointed she would not be able to see all her high school friends.

In terms of rental spaces, Sheree Morgan said her son’s second birthday party, which was going to be a baby shark-themed swim party at the Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre, had to be postponed because of COVID-19.

Morgan added she is still waiting back from the centre about rescheduling the party but has plans to do so once social distancing measures allow for it.

For everyone who has had their plans cancelled or altered by COVID-19, let us say happy birthday to you from all of us over at the Northern Sentinel!
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