SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Some local children celebrating birthdays this month with only their immediate families are getting personal parades, and the first round of them started yesterday afternoon, April 4, to the great delight of the recipients. 

Acting on an idea from Village President Sheena Collum, The South Orange Police and Fire Departments decided to offer to cheer up local kids who cannot have birthday parties during social distancing. The offer from the first responders was met with enthusiasm

One of the first parades was at the home of Moshe Marcus, who is turning one year old. His mom, Rachel Klinghoffer Marcus, said the magnitude of the situation was getting to her on Friday when she saw the offer and thought it would be a great thing for not only the birthday boy but also his sister. “My 3 year old is having a rough time” getting used to social distancing, Marcus said, since she’s used to going to preschool, and playing with two sets of cousins who live within walking distance of their Newstead neighborhood home. Frayda was disappointed that her brother wasn’t having a party, and Marcus thought this would cheer her up. 

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 “I showed [the social media post] to my sister and sister-in-law, and they said ‘we already beat you to it.’” The two aunts had already sent an email to make sure their nephew was on the list. 

When the two fire trucks and three police cars rolled by, waving and blasting their sirens, “that made our day. It was so special,” said Marcus. Moshe and his sister, Frayda, loved the special attention. Family members had walked over and watched from a safe distance. Grandparents had driven over to watch but stayed at the end of the driveway.

"It felt great" to provide the parades, said Community Relations Officer Adrian Acevedo. He said the first day went well, and they were able to go to nine houses. "We’ll need to fine tune how we do this as we move forward," Acevedo said, so as not to stretch resources. They did have some emergencies which pulled officers away during the events, and also they want to balance the fun with safety. "We need to make sure we don’t end up causing large gatherings, [and] we want to make sure folks keep the social distance thing in play," Acevedo said.

Marcus said she can’t thank the first responders enough for making these parades happen in addition to their regular duties: “It’s just above and beyond.… This is mental health, making it right in another way. It’s a big act of kindness.”

 

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