BERGEN — Thursday night was a scene familiar to those who live in the village.
Cars honked as they drove down Main Street, decorated in balloons and waving signs wishing happy birthday to four Byron-Bergen Central School students: Lauren, Dylan, Michael and Emma. The birthday kids, sitting with their immediate families on the side of the road in pickup trucks, waved as the cars drove by.
It marked 25th parade participants have done celebrating 42 children’s birthdays, and was the brainchild of Amy Phillips.
Phillips, who sits on the Byron-Bergen school board, said she posted in April, in a community Facebook group, that she had the opportunity to attend a parade for one of her son’s friends elsewhere. She had mentioned what a great idea it was.
“People jumped all over the idea and were like, ‘We should really do this here, can we make this happen?’” she said.
Phillips then contacted some local businesses whose owners have children in the district as well: Ralph & Rosie Delicatessen and Greg’ry’s Bakery. The two businesses were interested in helping sponsor it, so she created a Google calendar.
The parades for students were at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., and the group has been doing parades since April.
“The participation depends on the day and depends on the number of kids,” Phillips said. “This has been a very uplifting thing for the community, in particular kids in the district who normally would have celebrated their birthdays in schools, sitting at the birthday table, having your parents come in and read a book, and all the little celebrations that come with it. But because of what’s going on they’re not able to do that.”
Luke and Ava Smith, ages 12 and 9, both had their birthdays in April and received parades. Ava was surprised, as her birthday was first, but after his sister had a parade, Luke wanted one too.
“It was pretty fun, honestly,” he said as they lined up to celebrate the birthday kids Thursday night.
“It was nice to have on my birthday,” Ava said. “I got to see my friends.”
The brother-and-sister pair said it made up for them not being able to have a party at school.
Jililan Menzie, 18, was the oldest of the students to have her birthday celebrated with a parade and on Thursday was leading the parade as the school’s mascot.
“It was pretty fun, honestly,” she said. “Usually I’m the bee in the parade. I dressed that day as a superhero anyway.”
Menzie said it was a great way for the whole community to come out and see everyone, and it cheers up the kids during the parade as well.
Elliana and Michael Marsocci, ages 7 and 5, also had birthday parades. They said they loved getting the cookie cake and seeing all the different color cars which were decorated for their birthdays. It made them feel special, they said.
The parade lines up at the Bergen Town Offices before pulling out and start going down Main Street. The children being honored stand with their immediate families right outside of Ralph & Rosie Delicatessen and Greg’ry’s Bakery.
The cars go by honking like crazy and go up to the town park, turn around, and do it all again on the way back.
When the parade is over, Ralph & Rosie Delicatessen gives each a family a pizza kit to take home and make and each birthday kid gets a cookie cake decorated with their name on it from Greg’ry’s Bakery.
The parades will continue until June, when the school year would have ended.