Coronavirus: Birthday parades being held for Sask. children after their parties get cancelled

From Warman firefighters to Moose Jaw residents, people across the province are throwing birthday parades for Saskatchewan children.

The parades are replacing traditional birthday parties that were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a parent, trying to celebrate a six-year-old during this time is tough,” said Firmin Dion, a resident of Warman, Sask., whose son turned six on Sunday.

But there to the rescue was the Warman Fire Department. Since Thursday, they have visited 16 homes of children who had birthdays to celebrate, including Dion’s son, Zacharie.

The firefighters always show up in their red firetruck with a gift basket in hand.

“I’m really happy,” said Zacharie following the visit.

Since the fire department started doing this, they’ve had nearly 100 requests from parents.

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“To be able to pull up in a firetruck, it’s not about taking time out of your day, it’s about driving happiness within the community and those specific children.”

But Warman isn’t the only community putting together these parades.

Throughout the weekend, they organized nine parades that had up to 20 cars in them.

“Seniors and kids were waiving at us out of their window, and it wasn’t even from the birthday house,” Chell said.

“It was awesome. This is bringing smiles not only to the birthday person, but it’s bringing a little light to others who are social distancing right now.”

Chell said organizers didn’t realize how many people they were reaching until they started. As the parade drives by, other vehicles join in, or people wave from afar — young to old — and there’s no shortage of smiles.

“People are having fun because it gives them a chance to get out of the house safely,” Chell said. “This gives people a break from all the COVID-19 news and gives them something happy and positive to do.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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