PISCATAWAY, NJ – Led by the sirens of township police cars and firetrucks, dozens of decorated carloads of Piscataway residents drove by a Brookside Road home Sunday afternoon, honking horns, waving signs, and shouting ‘Happy Birthday’ to long-time resident, Jeanne Carney.
Jeanne, who has Down Syndrome celebrated her 55th birthday on Sunday but was not able to spend her special day with family and friends due to the coronavirus quarantine that’s in place, said her sister, Linda Carney Dessino.
To maintain social distance, Jeanne sat on the front porch of the group home where she lives, in her special birthday chair surrounded by balloons and birthday posters, smiling and waving to the parade of cars and trucks that drove past, and giving ‘air hugs’ to her loved ones.
When it was over, Dessino, who organized Jeanne’s birthday parade fought back tears of joy.
“I am so grateful to be part of a community like this that banded together and jumped right in for somebody they didn’t even know,” said Dessino. “They probably gave her the best birthday of her life. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
When asked how long it took her to organize Jeanne’s birthday parade, she said she just posted in a few social media groups on Saturday, not expecting that many people to respond.
“I only thought of it Friday night and thought it was just going to be a few friends and family and it just exploded,” said Dessino.
“Normally we do a whole weekend of shenanigans, such as having a birthday party and going to get her nails done,” she said. “But this was so cool, almost better, except the fact that I can’t hug her.”
“I want to give a special shout-out to the River Road Fire Company for going above and beyond for a last-minute request,” said Dawn Sitler who helped Dessino organize the drive-by celebration.
Sitler said she contacted the fire company Saturday night about bringing out one of their trucks since Jeanne loves firetrucks, and they contacted Arbor, New Market, and North Stelton to join in the parade.
“This was more than we ever thought it would be,” said Sitler.
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