By Amiri Hunter
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
Sunday, April 19, was the 6th birthday of Justice Alesse Indigo Simmons. Another year older, and supposedly normal like any other year prior. Lots of sugary snacks, friends and families, and an overall good time. But there was one small difference with this year's party: There was a global pandemic taking place.
As the general public is well aware, there is currently a global pandemic caused by the virus, COVID-19. Due to the lethal nature, there is a nationwide enforcement of social distancing. This means no social gatherings of large groups. Meaning birthday parties are a no go.
With this predicament there was a question of how to throw Justice a birthday party while still following the social distancing rules.
Justice’s older sister, Jasmine, had the perfect idea for a birthday party: a drive-by birthday party. For a drive-by party, there would be invites sent out to the guests giving them instructions to how the party would work. Each guest would drive by justice’s home, drop off any gifts, say hello and happy birthday to the birthday girl, receive their custom-made thank you bags, and be on their way. With the plan finalized, all that was left was the actual party.
Before any of the festivities could start, there had to be approval from the birthday girl herself. Justice understood the quarantine and what's happening with the virus. So, she understood quite well why she couldn’t have a normal birthday party with all her friends.
“I can’t wait till the virus is gone. Then I can play with all my friends again,” she said.
She would constantly say this as she did not enjoy being in the house constantly. When told about her party plan, she jumped up and down screaming,
“Oh my god! I can’t wait to see daddy and grandma Star and Grandpa Tone and grandma Diane and and1,” she said.
At this point, she was running out of breath from excitement.
With that, the party had the seal of approval and could begin. The party would be held from 4-6 p.m. to accommodate for most the guest and host new quarantine schedules. Justice’s mother, Ayanna, was in charge of the goodie bags and retrieving the cupcakes from the store.
Due to recent and rising cases of coronavirus within the City of Rochester, there is a mandatory mask rule on top of the social distancing rule.
Ayanna had this to say when questioned on how she felt about the enforcement of mask wearing: “I’ve been wearing a mask even before they made it mandatory. This doesn’t change anything for me at all.”
With the goodie bags and dessert taken care of, the only thing that was left to do was to set up decorations for the party. Jasmine was in charge of this process. There were many balloons and lots of pink – Justice’s favorite color – spread all over the house's interior and even pink balloons outside to indicate where the party was at.
“Even if we are the only ones to see the decorations, it’s OK to go a little overboard for her special day,” Jasmine commented on the decorating process.
With all the decorations set up, all that was left was to make the goodie bags. When Ayanna returned home she wiped off all the boxes of the items she bought. As she wiped down the boxes, she claimed, “You never know if someone touched the box and put it back down. A lot of careless people out there. Always to be better safe than sorry.”
Ayanna did this to all the products she bought during the quarantine and the party would be no difference.
As the time for the party came, the guests began to arrive. As they pulled up and dropped off their gifts, they were also handed their goodie bags and cupcakes. Before each guest left, I asked many of them questions on what they thought of the drive-by party idea.
Justice’s grandmother, Diane, exclaimed, “ Virus or not, there was no way I was gonna miss my baby’s 6th birthday.” She adjusted her mask and blew kisses to Justice.
One of Justice’s neighborhood friends, Braxton, was even able to attend and gave Justice a big hug saying, “I can’t wait till we are able to play outside again.” A big smile was on his face as he received his sugary goodie bag.
Justice loved her party and was more than happy seeing everyone important to her during her special day.
“This was the best birthday ever!” Which I believe every young child says about her birthday, but I could tell she really enjoyed her big day.
One of Justice’s many guests, when asked for their comment, stayed with me more than the others.
Justice’s grandpa, Greg, came very prepared with a painter's mask and said, “ I’m glad that we are still able to celebrate in this troubling time. There’s a lot going on and it’s sad to see everyone so sad and depressed.”
He let out a sigh and took his mask off, so that I could better understand what he was saying. “It’s times like this where you gotta celebrate these moments, even if it has to be a little different. This will all come to pass soon.”
He smiled, put back on his mask, and left me with those words to think over.
Mostly everyone is experiencing the same type of issues on a global scale. Yes, it's a scary time, but who says that we still can't celebrate the good things in life? Even during a global pandemic, to have a good birthday party all you need is sugary snacks, a good time, and family and friends. Even if those family and friends are 6 feet apart.
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