Celebrating birthdays in new way

Alcott Bennett poses with his birthday cake. The youngster celebrated his sixth birthday during the stay-at-home order.

The isolation imposed by the COVID-19 virus is hard on everyone, but it is especially tough on those who might not fully understand it – children.

School, outings and play dates have changed drastically, and even the most exciting of milestones, birthdays, must be modified. Three local families share how their children have taken birthdays in stride during these difficult times.

Daisy Jelliff-Bennett and Justin Bennet live in Millerton with their two sons. Alcott recently turned six.

“The party was planned for late March at Tanglewood Nature Preserve,” Daisy Jelliff-Bennett said. “We had to cancel.”

Instead, she said, “We had dinner at home – a takeout dinner of his choice – and cheesecake. Dad made the cake, and they were both proud of it.”

There are some unexpected perks to a rescheduled party.

“Family members dropped off presents,” Jelliff-Bennett said, “and some gifts came late because of shipping delays, but he really liked spreading his presents out.”

Overall, Alcott handled it very well, his mom added. “When quarantine is over we’ll let him choose a family day trip, which he is very excited about.”

Will Shaffer, now six, lives in Wellsboro with his parents Morgan and John and his younger sister. Will’s mid-March birthday was to be a dinosaur extravaganza and had to be canceled.

“He was pretty sad about the party not happening,” Morgan Shaffer said. “He kept talking about how the party signified that he was truly six.”

The Shaffers are hoping to reschedule, but are mindful of the health implications of doing so.

“We don’t know whether the social isolation and closure of non life-sustaining businesses will still be in effect,” Shaffer noted. “But we are hoping to do a summertime pool party with his classmates.”

Catherine Mosher of Wellsboro is the mother of Spencer Winters, now 11 years old. Spencer most likely had a birthday he will never forget – a parade.

“We were going to have a family party on March 28, which is his birthday,” Mosher said. “Social distancing took place that week, and he was bummed. So I put together the parade with the help of my mother, Julie Van Ness, and my grandmother, Cathy Shumway.”

Mitch Christman, the Wellsboro police officer on duty, was given permission to lead the parade up Sherwood Street. “

I bought goody bags from the Dollar General and silly string, and some people brought candy for him, “ Mosher said. “I just wanted make it special any way I could in the midst of the chaos.”

The family’s efforts paid off — Spencer was very surprised and declared it was his “best birthday ever,” his mom said. “He asked, ‘How many kids get to have a police car and a parade on their birthday?’”