About 200 neighbors drove by in their cars to celebrate a 5-year-old who couldn't have a party because of the coronavirus

  • Due to restrictions related to the coronavirus, Olivia Grace Williamson of Elgin, Illinois, couldn't have a party for her 5th birthday on Friday. 
  • To lift her daughter's spirits, Jennifer Schneff Williamson planned a  "parade," where about 200 friends, family, and neighbors drove by the family's home in their cars with balloons and signs to celebrate.
  • Williamson said her daughter was smiling all day and that she was "beyond grateful" for her community's support.
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Olivia Grace Williamson turned 5 on Friday, but with precautions to stem the spread of the coronavirus in place, she couldn't have a birthday party and was understandably upset. 

Her mother, Jennifer Schneff Williamson, got creative and organized an unforgettable celebration.

"She's feeling a little sad that her friends and family can't come over to celebrate," Williamson posted on the Elgin, Illinois Facebook page on Thursday.

Williamson asked neighbors, friends, and other members of the community to drive by their home on Friday between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. She encouraged participants to call out of their windows and honk.  

About 200 neighbors drove by a 5-year-old's house to celebrate her birthday

The Elgan community came through for Olivia Grace. Around 200 people drove by the Williamson's house on Friday, waving posters and balloons and shouting birthday wishes out of their car windows. Williamson said that the turnout helped her daughter, who doesn't fully understand the need for social distancing yet.


Williamson said that when she told her daughter that she couldn't celebrate her birthday with others, that's when the reality of the situation struck her.

Olivia Grace's mother asked their Elgin, Illinois community to help celebrate with a parade.
Jennifer Schneff Williamson / Facebook

"She started crying," Williamson said of how her daughter responded to the news.

About 64 cars of around 200 people turned out to celebrate the 5 year old's big day.
Jennifer Schneff Williamson / Facebook

The girl's mom said it showed how we can still stay connected while practicing social distancing

In a Facebook post after the parade, the mom of three thanked those who turned out to celebrate. She called the parade, "social distancing at its finest." 

By Williamson's count, 64 cars of family members, friends, and community members she didn't know got involved.

Williamson said that the parade had her daughter "smiling all day."
Jennifer Schneff Williamson / Facebook

After the parade, Williamson said her daughter was elated.

"She was shy but kept saying 'thank you,'" Williamson said. "She kept smiling the whole day. It was sweet and we are beyond grateful."

Williamson said she hopes this serves as an example of how to still feel joyful and connected during the pandemic. 

"We all need to focus on the positive these days," she said. 

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