‘It’s the little things’: Md. mom organizes special birthday parade for son during coronavirus closures

Honking and cheers filled a neighborhood in Rockville, Maryland, on Sunday as Jennifer Derman organized a special 13th birthday party celebration for her son, Zachary.

She bought some party supplies a few days ago and dropped them outside of the homes of close family and friends so they’d be ready to celebrate.

It was a complete surprise for Zachary.

“They were wearing headbands that said ‘happy birthday’ and they had little clappers and they were clapping them and signs and they were saying ‘happy birthday,'” Zachary said.

With schools closed and social distancing canceling many parties and closing local restaurants, Derman took a different approach to celebrating her son becoming a teenager, knowing that Zachary’s birthday came while schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Jennifer Derman, with the help of a friend, decided to organize a surprise birthday parade in front of their home in Rockville to lift his spirits.

“I had emailed family and friends just to see if they would come out of their seclusion because of the coronavirus and just drive by and honk and make a lot of noise just to surprise Zach on his birthday.”

Zachary Derman poses with a birthday bag from Carmen’s Italian Ice in Rockville. Employees from the restaurant came by as part of a parade organized by his mother for his 13th birthday party. (Courtesy Jennifer Derman)
Zachary Derman’s grandfather, Robert Pollinger, is seen celebrating his grandson’s birthday during a special drive-through birthday parade in Rockville amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Courtesy Jennifer Derman)
Family, friends and neighbors made special birthday presents and cards during a birthday parade for Zachary Derman. His mom organized the event to celebrate her son during the coronavirus outbreak. (Courtesy Jennifer Derman)

And they sure did.

About 10 cars drove by with clappers, cheers and well wishes, all while remaining 6 feet apart for social distancing, of course.

“It was really nice to see all of my family and friends again and to see them come for my special day,” Zachary said.

“Without being around his friends, he’s just been kind of down in the dumps,” Derman said.

She was grateful that those who came by took the time to make her son feel special.

“It’s the little things that make you realize people are still around,” she said.

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Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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