CINCINNATI, Ohio — The statewide stay-at-home order has really put a damper on birthday plans for many Ohioans. And that is why first responders in communities across the state have made it their mission to make sure their birthdays are special.
- For weeks now, Ohio police and fire departments have been going the extra mile to put smies on children's faces with drive-by birthday parties
- The governor and some Ohio county health departments say thes parades shouldn't go on
- The Blue Ash police chief says every time they have a party, he makes sure everyone abides by the order
Because of the statewide order, people haven’t been able to have regular birthday parties, so first responders have been bringing them to their front doors — driving by homes, blaring their sirens and waving to children as they pass by.
It’s one way of showing we’re all in this together. And it's something Blue Ash Police Chief Scott Noel says families really appreciate.
“I get an email within 10 minutes from these parents saying thank you so much,” said Noel. “They’re talking about it. This is the coolest thing. These are tough times, and if we can put smiles on people’s faces for a couple of minutes that’s what we’re here to do.”
Putting smiles on people’s faces is not the only thing Noel says he is looking to do. Keeping citizens safe is his number one priority. For every party he makes sure people are abiding by the stay-at- home order.
“What I have personally observed is that there has not been a problem. If there would be a problem in the future, we would stop," he said,
But the state has banned parades in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Mike DeWine reiterated that point during his daily news conference Friday and the health departments of Hamilton and Montgomery Counties said recently that the parades violate the stay-at-home order.
Hamilton County Public Health Public Information Officer Mike Samet says it’s important for people to abide by the order so that Ohio can continue to fight through this pandemic.
“You can see that we’ve really lowered the curve, we’ve kept the pressure off our hospital systems, and we’ve done a fantastic job in Ohio so far, minimizing the damage that coronavirus can do and we just need to keep that up a little while longer,” said Samet.
Noel says he understands the importance of the order, but doesn’t believe they are violating it. He says they plan to still continue with their drive-by parties, while making sure to keep everyone safe.
“My job is public safety, so if I felt that we were putting the public in jeopardy that would be kind of counterproductive to what my job is.”
Dayton and Montgomery County released the following guidelines for those who choose to participate in drive-by parades, which they say must be followed at all times to protect participants and other members of the public:
Updated Vehicle Parade Guidance
- No one who is sick should participate in a vehicle parade.
- Temperatures of all parade participants should be taken before they leave their homes.
- You may have COVID-19 and not feel sick or show any symptoms, but still are able to spread the disease to others.
- One person per vehicle unless they are members of the same household who live together.
- If vehicles meet before the parade, cars and people must remain 6’ apart.
- Passengers must remain in their vehicle at all times.
- No objects may be passed between vehicles and parade viewers.
- All traffic laws should be obeyed.
- If in a residential area, be mindful that there may be people trying to recover from COVID-19 and disturbances should be kept to a minimum.
- A reminder that shouting at someone increases the chances of spreading COVID -19.
- Masks should be worn by participants and viewers.
- Viewers may not enter the street and must remain at least 6’ apart at all times.
- People should not physically visit other’s homes to view the parade, unless they are there to provide help as outlined in the stay at home order.
- No parades at senior living centers, nursing homes or hospices.
- This guidance may be reviewed or modified at any time based upon updated conditions surrounding the spread of the disease.