Birthdays in New Brunswick certainly look a little different these days.
With physical distancing rules in place due to COVID-19, a 13th birthday party for Parker Layton of Taymouth was off the table.
Instead his family opted for something a bit out of the ordinary, with the hope of helping a neighbour in need.
To celebrate the beginning of Parker’s teenage years, around 30 vehicles, carrying family and friends, gathered at a local church decorated with balloons and banners.
And at noon sharp, they paraded by Parker’s house, honking and surprising the new teen who had normally hosted a party each year.
Each vehicle took turns stopping while drivers and passengers raced out to place gift bags and boxes at the end of his driveway as Parker and his family waved from a distance.
“It was still fun,” said Parker.
But the twist in this story lies in what was these brightly wrapped boxes and bags contained.
Those gifts were meant for someone else.
While there were some goodies for Parker, most of the boxes and bags contained groceries, new clothes, bedding, canned goods and cash donations.
Earlier Parker had asked his mom to tell people, instead of gifts, they should make a donation to help his neighbour, Gary Douglass.
Two weeks ago, a fire destroyed Douglass’ home and everything in it.
Only his horses and cows remain at his homestead.
Douglass himself is now in the hospital with tonsillitis.
“He is a lifelong resident of Taymouth,” said Nikki Layton, Parker’s mother. “A huge animal lover. Quiet man. Keeps to himself. He’s just an all-around nice guy who had hard luck a couple of weeks ago. So why not help out the best we can?”
The community had already organized a small fundraising campaign to help Douglass get back on his feet once he leaves the hospital, but the Laytons wanted to do more.
“So, we suggested if anybody wanted to, they could bring food donations, personal care items, and drop them off at the gate while they’re honking,” said Nikki Layton.