Amidst pandemic, 16-year-old receives a birthday parade

After a Morrell Park teenager had to cancel a weekend of sweet 16 plans due to the coronavirus, her friends, family and neighbors put on a birthday parade of cars to celebrate while social distancing.

Morrell Park resident Hailey Goetz-Cantz had to cancel her sweet 16th birthday party, so friends, neighbors and family drove by in a convoy to drop off gifts and wish her a happy birthday. LOGAN KRUM/TIMES PHOTO

It wasn’t the sweet 16th celebration that Hailey Goetz-Cantz expected, but it was still a day she’ll never forget.

The Morrell Park teenager didn’t think much would be going on last Saturday after plans for a big sweet 16th bash at Santucci’s had to be canceled due to coronavirus. But despite the shutdown, she was still able to see all the family, friends and neighbors she invited that day – they formed a convoy to drive past her home, dropping off birthday cards and wishes one-by-one as they went.

“I think this is better than what we had planned,” said her mom, Cathy.

It was a total surprise to the Little Flower student, whose family arranged the event in group chats with her friends and family unbeknownst to her.

Cathy and her father Lenny saw similar birthday parades on the news and wanted to do the same for their daughter.

“I wasn’t expecting anything and with how much I miss everyone, this means so much,” Hailey said.

A firetruck joined the convoy to celebrate with lights and beeps. LOGAN KRUM/TIMES PHOTO

Joining the convoy was an Engine 22 firetruck, which lit up the normally quiet cul-de-sac with bright lights and loud horns.

Amidst the worldwide pandemic, the family of five practiced safe social distancing. They stood from the rain under a tent outside their house as cars drove by, with Hailey running up to claim cards as they were handed from the vehicles.

“It was rough at the beginning of the week, but this was great and the support we received from family, friends and neighbors was outstanding,” Lenny said.

Even during unprecedented times, the family was still able to put on an unforgettable birthday celebration. ••

From left to right: Lenny, Hailey, Justin, Cathy and Chase. LOGAN KRUM/TIMES PHOTO
Hailey grabs a card from a passing car. LOGAN KRUM/TIMES PHOTO