by Marcus Harrison Green
Clive Ward Nichols was never going to have a typical seventh birthday party.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order to curb the coronavirus pandemic ensured that. But so too did a dance trio of a tyrannosaurus, a blue unicorn, and a three-eyed alien. Each boogied down 58th Ave. S. in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, as Imagine Dragons blared through the loudspeakers. The beasts were preceded by a cavalcade of honking cars, and neighbors planted dining room chairs in their front yards for prime seating.
Clive’s mother Jennie Nichols, joined family friends and his teachers to plan the youngster’s April 4 birthday parade.They wanted to guarantee the newly turned 7-year-old would have an unforgettable day, regardless of current times.
“I felt kinda sad leading up to it, because it’s an isolating time for all of us. But we had neighbors and friends drive by our house for a surprise parade, ending with our next door neighbors coming out in inflatable suits and dancing to his favorite band,” said Nichols.
With schools closed through the end of the school year, the day also gave Clive a chance to reconnect –– albeit from a safe distance –– with teachers he hadn’t seen in nearly a month.
“It was so sweet to see his little face light up and say each person’s name that drove by, especially after not getting to see and interact with him everyday like normal,” said Katie Lawrence, Clive’s first-grade teacher at nearby Emerson Elementary “When he saw myself and my dog in the car and said, ‘Mrs. Lawrence! And you brought Cooper!’ my entire day was made.”
Nichols’s neighbors, who donned inflatable costumes to form Saturday’s dance troika, amped up the fun.
“How do you throw a birthday party for someone in these strange times? Inflatable T-Rex costumes are definitely a part of the solution,” said neighbor Eric Smith, who dressed as Clive’s favorite dinosaur.
For Smith and the other adults, the day provided a show of neighbors creatively uniting, along with a much needed reprieve from daily anxieties. But, most importantly, it accomplished its primary mission.
“That was the best birthday ever!” Clive told his mother, after the parade wrapped up.
What he’d say next made her cry.
“Clive told me his birthday wish was to someday repay me for the kindness I showed him today,” she said.
In a time when angst brings tears to so many, Saturday was a small reminder that joy can, too.
Featured image by Meadow Johnson