WEST VILLAGES - Maddy Wegrzyn's 8th birthday was on May 9.

Her grandparents, Terry Goudreau and Fred Wegrzyn, wanted to celebrate with her.

But with COVID-19 restrictions, they were unable to travel to Maddy's Massachusetts home. So they did the next best thing during a pandemic. They threw Maddy a "safe" birthday party

Goudreau, Maddy's "mémère" (that's French for grandmother) and Wegrzyn, Maddy's "dziadziu" (that's Polish for grandfather) were happy to celebrate her birthday "Florida style," Goudreau said in an email, since they could not be with her, they would hold a "virtual" event.

But how best to celebrate? Everyone loves a parade, Goudreau decided.

It consisted of six golf carts. 

Friends and neighbors, no doubt suffering from cabin fever themselves, eagerly participated in the parade on May 8 in the couple's pleasant IslandWalk neighborhood.

Friends Judy and Wayne Tessin brought their dog Ben to enjoy the ride.

Neighbor Judy Mulligan wore her mask to stay safe in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Friend Stephanie Steffens loves to be patriotic in a parade. She was there, too. Steffens is an excellent golf cart decorator, Goudreau said.

The group also sang "Happy Birthday" and ate cupcakes in honor of Maddy's birthday. 

There were no men in funny hats riding go-karts in circles. But a good time was had by all.

After the party, video and photos of the event were emailed to Maddy, who also received a cherished Facetime call from her proud mémère and dziadziu. The photos included one of friends Linda Kroll and daughter Stacey Kroll, who rode in what Goudreau called the "best decorated golf cart."

There are no plans to add that contest category to a parade next year. Everyone hopes Goudreau and Wegrzyn will be able to visit Maddy in person in 2021, if not sooner, after the guidelines are lifted.

Since there are no public parades on this Memorial Day weekend, organizing smaller community parades such as this or visiting the Veteran's Cemetery in Sarasota but remaining in one's car could be a safe way to honor those whom we should never forget.

Or, take a stroll down Venice Avenue past this city's newly spruced up veterans memorial. But keep your distance, Adhere to the 6-foot rule when out in public. Pictures of the memorial are on today's Photo Album page.

Editor's note: This birthday photo story is being run as a way to educate those who either do not believe the Covid-19 pandemic is something to worry about because for this party parade, the organizers considered the things that are as important as the birthday - masks and social distancing. The story was submitted by Terry Goudreau.

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