It was Kerwood vs. COVID-19, and on this day, Kerwood won. It wasn’t even close.
Kerwood is a farming community just west of Strathroy, Ont. A cluster of houses and a few businesses along a few side streets and a two-lane road that dips south of Highway 402.
Many of the back yards border the farm fields that envelop Kerwood.
On Monday, one of Kerwood’s few hundred residents, Elias Gleeson, turned three.
As winter began to release its grip this year, Elias was very much looking forward to having friends over for his third birthday.
Last year he wasn’t able to mark his second birthday in the way he’d have liked because he was too sick to receive guests.
When it came to having a birthday party, a real one, Elias was hoping the third time would be the charm. But then came the coronavirus and physical distancing and those hopes were dashed.
Elias was disappointed, and the word got around Kerwood. Some people, including the local Optimist Club, got organized.
And so on Monday morning, the town made Elias’s day by staging a parade past his house.
About two dozen cars, ambulances, fire trucks, OPP cruisers and a few mud-caked tractors assembled at a staging area at a nearby park.
A few of the vehicles were decorated with special happy birthday messages taped to the windows.
Then, at the stroke of 10 a.m., the line of vehicles started a slow roll past Elias’ house.
Some made a quick stop to drop off gifts. Others tooted their horn three times as they passed.
The emergency vehicles sounded their sirens.
All the while, Elias stood at the edge of his driveway, waving and laughing.
Father Matt, a paramedic, wanted to bring some light into what’s been a tough few weeks for everyone.
“The parade was an idea that we’d seen in other communities,” he said. “It’s really heart-warming to see that we have that community involvement. I think it’s a nice, uplifting story for everyone and a beautiful day for it.”