Birthdays celebrated with love from afar

Apr 8, 2020

Birthday parties in a pandemic are a little different.

Brooke Frietag’s birthday was marked with a socially-distanced visit by a fire truck. Aubrey Cooper will be greeted by a drive-by community parade. Barbara Andrews will be serenaded from her front yard.

As families and friends are isolated to prevent the spread of coronavirus, celebrations of milestones like birthdays have had to change, with parties postponed and in person wishes being expressed at a distance. One birthday girl got a visit from a fire truck, another’s mother is planning a parade, and a third’s family is getting ready to serenade her from the front yard.

Brooke’s 10th birthday was on April 7. Gregg Donahue, a water meter reader for the Wareham Water Department, was admiring chalk drawings and posters in the window of a home when he learned they were created by Brooke, who told Donahue that it was her birthday.

Donahue wanted to do something special for Frietag, and planned with Captain Mickey Byrd at the Wareham Fire Department to have a fire truck drive by later that afternoon while Donahue’s grandchildren sang her happy birthday -- a successful and happy surprise.

Mary Cooper’s daughter Aubrey will be turning four on Friday, April 10, and since a regular birthday party is out of the question, she came up with an idea to allow her to celebrate while staying at a safe distance.

Everyone in town is invited to drive by their house at 5 Wright Lane to honk their horns, wave, or even share a greeting through decorations on the car.

Cooper said her daughter was a little sad when she found out she couldn’t have a big birthday party like she usually did, so she wanted to figure out an alternative way to celebrate. After sharing the idea with family and friends, she reached out to the town through local Facebook groups to invite anyone who just wanted to get out of the house for a bit and help Aubrey celebrate.

“They can decorate their car if they want, honk horns- just anything to make her happy,” Cooper said.

The drive-by birthday is scheduled for 4:15 p.m.

Barbara Andrews will be turning 90 on Sunday, April 12.

Andrews, a resident of Onset, worked in cafeterias at Wareham Public Schools for years, and is still greeted with a hug by former students. She was also a dedicated volunteer with the Onset Bay Association and the VFW, serving as the President of the Ladies Auxiliary Dudley L. Brown VFW Post in Onset.

“This Coronavirus not only caused her 90th Birthday to be canceled, it also (for her safety) has confined her to the house. I am hoping that on her Birthday on Sunday, that the sun will be shining at 1 p.m. and that she can come out to her front porch to wave to us and we can sing her Happy Birthday from a safe social distance,” said her niece Sandy Cormier.

Andrews moved to Onset several years after graduating high school, and married the love of her life Bobby Andrews, known as the Honorary Mayor of Onset Pier. Together, they shared a life in Onset, Cormier said.

Happy birthday Brooke, Aubrey, and Barbara!