For months smiling faces lined roadways in Navasota in anticipation of blaring sirens, happy birthday wishes over the intercom and a personal parade featuring first responders and various members of the community.
The Navasota Birthday Parades originated to provide a celebration for children who were ordered to stay home due to COVID-19 and were unable to celebrate their birthdays. Following a conversation with The Examiner Newspaper, Navasota Police Lieutenant Michael Mize grasped the concept of providing smiles to young faces and pitched the idea to other first responders who gladly joined in.
All that community members were required to do was call in and request the birthday parade. The Examiner broadcast each parade (197 total) on Facebook. “There were days when the heat was excruciating, and there were days when we battled the rain, but seeing the smiling faces of so many made it worthwhile,” explained Examiner Publisher Ana Cosino.
A lot of volunteers joined in the efforts to make the parades successful. “Nobody hesitated when I introduced the idea of birthday parades to them,” said Mize. “We had an outpouring of support. It originated with an idea, but the end product exceeded my expectations.”
Taqueria La Escondida distributed gift cards to birthday honorees, Dave and Christy Johanson provide stuffed animals, Gina Buehring donated hand sanitizer and Subway provided cookie vouchers . The Grimes County Amateur Radio Group also participated in the parades.
Other first responders helping to spread joy included Navasota Fire Department and CHI St. Joseph EMS. The parades were not limited to just birthdays. In addition to the 186 birthday parades, there were also parades to celebrate anniversaries, a nurse’s retirement and appreciation parades for healthcare workers.
On Tuesday, June 30, the Navasota Birthday Parades took their final drive through the streets in Navasota ending with a personal birthday parade for Lieutenant Mize who started it all.