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Celebrating birthdays in the age of quarantine

Community and city officials make birthdays special in spite of COVID-19 pandemic.

MINNEAPOLIS — Celebrating during the coronavirus crisis almost seems impossible.

But we found amazing ways people are celebrating birthdays in the age of quarantine.

“How do we celebrate joy in these milestones? And make it as special as you can, given everything that is going on?” Dana Nelson questions.

Tuesday Dana Nelson turned 50. She had a big trip planned. But COVID-19 canceled her plans. To mark the milestone, she shaved her already short hair with the help of her son. Her friends and family decorated her yard and dropped off presents. 

“You are only 50 once so we are going to try a new do," she said.

But despite the dark days our country has seen, Nelson can give you 50 reasons why celebrating is critical.  

“I think it's okay to find those moments of joy and celebrate these milestones because they're happening,” she said.

The first responders in Crystal agree. They are giving the gift of the Birthday Brigade. During the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, Crystal Police, Crystal Public Works and the West Metro Fire Rescue District are stopping in front of participating households, honking a horn or sounding a siren, waving to the residents and the birthday boy or girl and then departing, according to Sgt. Justin Tourville. 

Fear not.  The staff cannot exit the vehicle nor linger at the home. Birthday Brigade visits can only occur during the work week, and between one of two time periods, either 9 – 11 a.m. or 1 – 3 p.m.  Crystal residents can sign up here.

“This is for children who can't go outside, can't have a birthday party, just to give them something to help celebrate their birthdays because they can't do so with friends because of social distancing,” Sgt. Tourville said.

Megan Kimmel’s son turned one. She was surprised to see the Birthday Brigade in her neighborhood.

“It was a really fun surprise. He is our first boy and not that it matters but the firetruck for the boys was nice,” she said. “It was maybe the silver lining of saying we can't celebrate your birthday in person.”

In Alexandria, there was a drive-by birthday party with honks and waves on Sunday for a community hero who lives with Down Syndrome. He is now 34.

On Nelson's block, her friends and family made her birthday special in spite of this pandemic. They left a care package with COVID-19 essentials: party favors and toilet paper.

“If you would've told me a year ago that on my 50th birthday I'd be excited to get toilet paper I would probably look at you kind of funny,” she said.

MORE BTN: COVID 19: Four ways to survive isolation

MORE BTN: Burnsville doctor takes regular pregnancy check-ups to curbside

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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.