In an effort to raise community spirits while maintaining social distancing, some fire departments across the Dallas County area are offering drive-by parades for residents celebrating special occasions.
The Waukee Fire Department threw their first drive-by parade after a lieutenant saw community members from other states posting information on social media. The fire department has since thrown around 40 drive-by parades, with celebrations for not only birthdays but anniversaries as well.
“It’s clearly had a very positive effect on everybody when we drive by,” Waukee Fire Chief Clint Robinson said. “The proof is in the kids and parents and their facial expressions. You can tell the kids are just thrilled with it.”
De Soto Fire Chief John Booth said that their fire department was originally planning on throwing a weekend open house at the fire station before COVID-19 hit. Now, after seeing other departments across the country and state offering drive-by parades, he posted a Facebook message stating that with children at home due to the coronavirus, anyone that is celebrating a birthday could contact the De Soto Fire Department.
“It took off a lot faster than I thought it would, in a great way,” Booth said, “I believe during this time of social distancing and the COVID-19, we as communities need to band together and help each other out. If that is the fire department doing a drive-by, or us coming to help someone in need to take their groceries in for them, as the fire chief I feel that I need to help those in our community in whatever way I can.”
The Adel Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department also received a request from an Adel citizen after seeing that other local fire departments would drive-by for special events. The department has since received around four requests for birthdays and are considering driving by various neighborhoods for all kids to enjoy.
“I think it keeps the spirits up. It also shows the community we’re all still here and we’re all still working for them,” Adel Volunteer Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Tim Knipper said.
In addition, the fire departments are continuously looking for creative ways to reach out and connect with the local community while still maintaining social distancing through COVID-19. Some state that they are open to not only expanding drive-by parades but also new ideas as they develop along the way.
“This is pretty new for all of us. I think as people come up with more ideas, we are always willing to help and do whatever we can for the community,” Knipper said. “I think it really brings the community together, and I think it shows that everybody is in this fight together.”