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Drive-by Calgary birthday bash keeps a neighbourhood connected during coronavirus

Coronavirus pandemic or not, everybody loves a surprise party.

Car horns and laughter echoed along Riverglen Drive in the southeast Calgary community of Riverbend on Wednesday afternoon as Doug Rooney celebrated his drive-by 70th birthday.

With social distancing still very much in effect, Doug wasn’t expecting much of a birthday bash this year.

Doug’s wife, Marian, got creative and called Yard Cards on Monday morning – one of the few businesses keeping busy right now.

Yard Cards has been slammed with bookings for children’s parties since the rise of COVID 19, and Marian wasn’t sure they’d have anything available on such short notice.

“I told them it’s my husband’s 70th birthday, and they said, ‘oh well we can squeeze that one in,’” said Marian.

“Not a lot of children’s parties were looking for buzzards.”

Yard Cards arrived at 6 a.m. Wednesday to set up, giving Doug plenty of time to celebrate his drive-by birthday party.

“I didn’t know anything about it. I got to wake up to this,” he said.

Throughout the day, friends, family and neighbours took turns visiting Doug from the sidewalk, while people driving by honked their horns to show their support.

One neighbour, Keith Labossiere, brought his own chair to set up on Doug’s lawn, making sure to put enough distance between him and the Rooney’s.

“We’re keeping our distance, so they can’t give me a $1,200 fine,” said Labossiere.

Even the Rooney’s granddaughter joined the party, placed six feet away in her own mini camping chair.

“As long as everyone stays six feet apart, I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to do more of these kinds of things,” said Doug.

Having lived in their home for almost 30 years, the Rooney’s have forged strong bonds with their neighbours and appreciated having them be a part of Doug’s birthday.

“We’ve known some of these people for 28 years. So, getting to include them has been really fun,” he said.