In the light of state and local measures instituted to slow the spread of COVID-19 — most recently the Franklin County Health Department releasing a stay-at-home order — residents are finding creative ways to continue common traditions safely, including birthdays.


"With the family members that are participating, this gives happiness to them too — to be able to do something besides sit at home and worry," said Sharon Thompson. "It gives us the chance to put a smile on everyone’s faces, and certainly my grandson’s as well."


Thompson is the grandmother of Carson Beets, whose birthday was Tuesday. Inspired by a TV segment, Thompson decided to host a birthday parade for Carson.


"I thought, ‘Carson’s birthday is coming up — let’s do it,’" she said. "I called my sisters and other family members, and we decided that would be a great idea. We can’t hug him or give him a full birthday party, but we can celebrate him from our cars.


"In the future, when everything calms down and everything is safe, he will be having a birthday party. But people aren’t gathering right now, and we want to be safe and take all the precautions we need to right now."


The family lined up in cars at Ottawa Middle School and paraded past Carson’s house, much to his delight, Thompson said.


"He’s ten today, so he understands what’s going on," she said. "I did Facetime him this morning, and I asked him how it felt to be ten. He said, ‘Grandma, I’m just excited I’m in double digits.’ That cracked me up."


Thompson said celebrating Carson’s birthday was likely as good for everyone involved as much as Carson.


"Everyone is experiencing stress and concern," Thompson said. "Things like this take our minds off what is going on in the world right now. Even if it’s just five minutes, every minute helps."