BARNEGAT, NJ – Yesterday, Anthony Mastropierro’s eyes were as wide as saucers as he stepped outside on his fifth birthday. Although he was the one outfitted in magician’s gear, Anthony’s parents Mike and Fallon had something up their sleeves. The family has only lived in Barnegat for a year. Yet, a magical parade of cars appeared to acknowledge Anthony’s birthday.
“We were planning on having twenty to thirty people for Anthony’s party,” shared Mike. “However, as the news of the coronavirus kept getting worse, we decided we needed to postpone it.”
Originally, a magician was hired to perform some tricks. Since decorations in line with a magical theme were already purchased, Mike and Fallon still decorated their house. Thanks to technology, they shared the celebration with extended family using Zoom. The Mastropierro’s have another son named Ryan. The four of them lit candles on cupcakes and enjoyed them together.
The excitement came about 4:00 pm when cars started to line up. To Mike’s surprise, a Barnegat police officer led the pack. The parade circled the Mastropierro’s small-block five times – representative of Anthony turning five.
“People made signs and post-it notes, while they honked and played music,” Mike said. “No one left their cars, and we still had about twenty guests.”
While older brother Ryan couldn’t contain his excitement, the birthday boy seemed to be in a bit of shock. After all, Anthony was dressed as the magician, and he had no idea who arranged the bag of tricks.
What about the police officer who magically appeared? According to Barnegat Chief Keith Germain, the officer spontaneously came across the parade and jumped in to support the community. The police chief stressed that the officer did exactly what was expected and encouraged by the agency's strong community culture.
However, in an age where everyone needs to stay at home, the police department has decided they can’t participate in future events like this one.
"This is the real challenge for our officers. We have great, community-oriented officers. They want to help and make things better for people,” stressed Germain. “At the same time, we want to encourage people to stay home during this unprecedented time-- and participating in these events sends a mixed message to the public."