Portsmouth birthday girl gets a rare gift: A drive-by parade

Hathaway friends, neighbors organize event for Evelyn May, 8


PORTSMOUTH — There were no birthday hugs or kisses, but Evelyn May got to witness something truly special for her eighth trip around the sun: a drive-by parade of revelers just for her.

Since she couldn’t have friends over to celebrate due to social distancing prompted by COVID-19 (coronavirus), her Hathaway School friends and neighbors organized a short parade in her honor that passed by her Water Street home at noon on Sunday.

“I saw a post on Facebook, where neighborhoods were doing drive-by parades for birthdays for kids in the neighborhoods because they couldn’t have parties, and they can’t celebrate at school with their friends,” said Emily Rahilly, who works in the main office at Hathaway, where Evelyn goes to school.

The little girl’s mother, Jill May, is one of Ms. Rahilly’s dearest friends. She and her husband, Brian, knew about the parade, but not Evelyn.

“I had to text the mom to let her know so they would be out front,” Ms. Rahilly said. “Her teacher, Elizabeth King, and some of her general school aides are here. Nicole Faria is the neighborhood contact, and she texted everyone in the neighborhood. So we’re very excited.”

Sure enough, when the parade of cars and trucks rolled by — led by a police escort — Evelyn, her 9-year-old sister Audrey and their parents were out in their driveway, playing basketball.

As the caravan made its way past the home, revelers young and old yelled out to Evelyn, used noisemakers, took photos and videos, and even dropped presents in the roadway. Evelyn smiled and waved from a safe distance from the bottom of her driveway.

Yes, she was surprised, she said.

“I was trying not to cry while I was videoing,” said Ms. May. “That was amazing. That was the most special thing ever.”

Added Mr. May, after handing over one of Evelyn's presents that was tossed in the roadway, “She’s definitely going to remember this birthday.”

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