NYC Moms Organize Surprise 'Car Parade' Party After 8-Year-Old's Birthday Gets Canceled

Kate Barvels

Adrian's birthday
Kate Barvels

When Adrian Fioravanti's birthday party was canceled because of going into isolation last month, the second-grader from Queens, New York, was bummed (to say the least). But little did he know his friends would soon surprise him with an epic "party" outside his window, and give him an eighth birthday he would never forget.

  • His mom, Sarah Fioravanti, tells CafeMom that her son was upset by the news, but ultimately understood the reason behind it.

    "I don't go into great detail ... but he knows that there is a virus that is very contagious," Sarah says, "and he knows that everything has to close to keep everyone safe and for them to be able to clean the buildings."

    The 8-year-old was looking forward to a party with friends at an indoor amusement park in nearby Long Island, New York. Instead, he made peace with the fact that he would be celebrating inside without his friends and that his party was postponed indefinitely, until things are safer.

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  • Adrian wasn't the only one who was bummed about his birthday being canceled, though.

    So were his friends -- and even their parents.

    "I kept thinking what an awful time to be celebrating -- or rather not celebrating -- your eighth birthday," says Kate Bode Barvels, whose 7-year-old son is friends with Adrian. 

    She tells CafeMom that she kept wracking her brain for ideas that would comply with social distancing rules, while also making Adrian's birthday feel special. 

    "I considered ordering a cake or something like that, but just kept thinking it was the human connection that is missed the most right now," the mom of three continues. 

    In the end, she couldn't have been more right. 

  • Barvels eventually decided to make colorful signs with her kids and drive over to Adrian's home to wish him a happy birthday -- from the car.

    Car decorated with birthday signs
    Kate Bode Barvels

    But of course, it wouldn't be a true birthday party if all his BFFs weren't there.

    "Once I decided this, I called up the families of several of his closest friends," Barvels explains. "I explained the plan and it was a go."

  • In addition to Barvels and her own three kids, four other families also joined in on the fun.

    Family celebrates from the car
    Kate Bode Barvels

    "All of us made signs to hang out of the car, or tape to the car once we arrived," she says. She and her husband even swung into a nearby Dunkin' Donuts to pick up some party "treats."

    "I had the donuts all put into individual bags for each car so we could all 'have cake' (aka donuts) together at the same time," the Queens mom continues. "Then we drove house to house to 'pick up our friends' along the way."

  • As they made their way to Adrian's house, the families followed one another in an impromptu "car parade" and happily honked their horns.

    Family leans out window of car with signs
    Kate Bode Barvels

    "It was just special," Barvels recalls. "It was the best day we had had since this all began."

    That's saying a lot, considering the strain that many families are under right now; not just in the US but throughout the world. As the virus continues to spread, cases are on the rise, and stay-at-home orders have altered life as we know it. It's become increasingly hard to explain to children why they can't go to school or play with their friends or do any of the things they used to just a few weeks ago.

    But on March 24, even if only for a short while, Adrian forgot about all the things he can no longer do -- thanks to some of his closest friends at St. Margaret's School in Middle Village, Queens.

  • Once the "car parade" neared Adrian's block, his mom got a call that brightened his day in the best possible way.

    Adrian and Sarah looking out their window
    Kate Bode Barvels

    "It was a complete surprise. We had no idea," Sarah tells CafeMom. "Kate called us to see what we were doing and then told us to look out our window, and everyone was there! 

    "I think that my son was in complete shock as was I," she continues. "I started crying happy tears, and he just kept looking back and forth at all the cars in complete shock. It definitely lifted his spirits and made it a birthday to remember. It meant a lot to him to see all his friends and to see the balloons and little gifts they left!"

  • To say the party was a hit would be an understatement.

    Adrian's birthday
    Kate Bode Barvels

    Both Barvels and Fioravanti admit that these last few weeks have been difficult and scary in so many ways, but that it's also brought them closer -- both to their own kids and their community.

    "With all the 'bad' that is happening right now, it's also bringing out a lot of 'good' in people," Sarah tells CafeMom. "It's making us find new ways to connect with our friends and families, and it's opening our minds to who and what we truly care about."

    It may not have been the birthday that he'd planned, but Sarah says that Aiden's "car parade" birthday was ultimately "one of the most heart warming, genuine act of kindness" she's ever seen. 

    (Still, here's hoping his birthday next year goes a little more according to plan!)