Family, friends make sure virus doesn’t spoil girl’s birthday

LISBON — Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes. Just ask Sierra Frantz.

When Frantz was faced with celebrating her daughter’s 10th birthday and complying with the governor’s order for everyone to stay home, she and her sisters came up with a unique plan: They had a parade.

At 5 p.m. last Wednesday, 25 to 30 vehicles began driving past the Frantz residence on North Jefferson Street to wish Addison a happy birthday. The participants included her grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, Julie Mercer (Addison’s teacher at McKinley Elementary), the school resource officer, a fire truck and others who just felt like participating.

“She was kind of shocked and embarrassed at first, but then she loved it,” Frantz said of her daughter.

Addison’s older brother, Hadden, had just celebrated his 14th birthday on March 4, before the restrictions were enacted, “so we were able to get together for a family dinner and birthday celebration for him,” Frantz said.

“We were getting ready to pass out invitations when all of this happened,” she said. First, schools were closed starting March 16 and later everyone was told to self-quarantine as much as possible and avoid mixing with those outside their immediate family to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Addison could still have a birthday party but it would just be her brother and parents — no grandparents, cousins or friends.

“Then she was really bummed, and we began to think about something else we could do. We thought about having a Facebook party but decided that wasn’t enough,” Frantz said.

Her younger sister, Clara Roessler, then came up with the idea of having a parade. She contacted their older sister, Tamara Newbold, a teller at the Huntington National Bank branch in town, and she began telling everyone she met.

“She started reaching out to people and everyone loved it,” Frantz said.

The drivers met in the Eagles parking lot before heading to the Frantz residence at the designated time. Meanwhile, Frantz told her children to ride their hover boards in the front yard instead of the back yard so Addison would be where she needed to be.

Then the first of the vehicles arrived and one by one passed by, with each slowing to a crawl and the occupants shouting birthday wishes to Addison. The vehicles with Addison’s friends had signs they made wishing her a happy birthday.

School resource officer Tab Bailey drove by in a Center Township police cruiser. Lisbon firefighter Adam McCullough, who went to school with Frantz, drove the fire truck and wished Addison a happy birthday over the loud speaker as he passed by.

“That was her favorite part,” Frantz said. “That’s what I said: Who gets a fire truck for their birthday? But that’s the blessing of living in a small town.”

When they were done, the vehicles circled the block and made a second pass. Frantz estimated the procession was about 100 yards long. The neighbors were even out on their porches joining in the celebration.

“It was like a block party,” she said,.

Frantz wanted to thank everyone who participated. “This has been so hard on kids’ mental health. They’re so used to being out and seeing their friends, and just seeing them for that brief second” cheered her up, she said.



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