MONTVILLE, NJ – When kids have birthday parties, they usually have a few friends over or go to the movies or mini golfing. But during the Coronavirus pandemic, new ways to celebrate are emerging. TAPinto Montville talked to a couple of families to find out how their children’s recent birthdays were celebrated and what the kids thought of the changes.

Jordyn Bilenski turned 10 recently, and the fourth grader had originally planned to go roller skating, but the pandemic put those plans to a halt. Instead, 16 cars filled with friends lined up on her street, honking and waving, with kids carrying balloons and gifts which were thrown onto her lawn. She and her family watched with laughter from their front porch.

Jordyn’s parents Tina and Doug had asked the Montville Township Police Department to join in the parade, but unfortunately they were out on calls. A single unmarked squad car was able to pull up, lights and sirens on, and the police officer apologized for the delay.

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Tina said obviously the family understood the change in plans.

“This is a tough time and to feel all the love from Jordyn’s friends and family is amazing and overwhelming,” she said. “The world is just insane right now, but this is a great town full of a lot of special people. The outpouring of love was wonderful.”

Sadly, Tina lost her father recently, but a cake was sent as part of the condolence food, which did double duty as a birthday cake for Jordyn. The family joked that since they couldn’t go out to get birthday candles, Jordyn was turning “47,” since they had had to take a number “7” candle and a “40” candle and cut them down to resemble the number “10.”

Tina said that recently Jordyn has spent so much time on Facetime with her friends that they have grown extremely close.

“Normally I would limit phone and screen time, but they are laughing so much, I don’t want to take the phone away,” she said. “I give her a little more time than I normally would.”

Jordyn called her birthday “exciting.”

Over at the Wheeler home, Brandon turned 13 recently. The sixth grader was disappointed that he couldn’t get together for fishing or hiking with his friends, but the huge parade that friends, neighbors and the Montville Police put on for him really made his day.

“My son listens to the police scanner – he loves fire trucks and police cars,” mom Tina said. “So the police cars coming for his birthday was right up his alley.”

Tina said Brandon’s teachers at the Banyan School Zoomed with him and wished him a happy birthday. The family went fishing and for a hike, and got take-out from Izumi. They had homemade cake for dessert.

“Brandon woke up saying ‘I wish I could see somebody,’ but he went to bed saying, ‘It was the best birthday ever!’” Tina said. “[The parade] was such a nice thing. It was really nice.”

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