Drive-by birthday: Celebration accommodates social distancing

HARLINGEN — Rudy Rodriguez was asked to step outside his house for a moment.

What Rodriguez did not know was that a parade dedicated to him would drive by Saturday to celebrate his 20th birthday.

Aunts and cousins passed the house in cars and trucks. One of his aunts, Carly Alonzo, was in the back of her truck with a speaker shouting “happy birthday” to him as the truck blasted music.

Confetti popped up, strings dangled from the vehicle’s windows as well as signs that said happy birthday. Lorie, Rodriguez’s mother had made posters, too, the night before. Rudy sat in a folding chair in his driveway as he watched while holding a sign saying, “It’s my birthday. The one where I was quarantined”

Rodriguez said he had not seen any of his family members in a month. Usually, they all get together, but as a family they have had to become accustomed to social distancing rules for safety.

“ I had seen people were doing these kinds of celebrations on Facebook but I didn’t know they were going to do this for me,” he said.

His parents asked him to step outside around noon but Rodriguez was clueless of the surprise.

Rodriguez said usually his family gets together to have a cookout for birthdays but he knew it would not be possible this year. However he did not expect this gesture from his relatives.

“ I feel good. It’s a good day since I haven’t seen my family together since the quarantine happened. I appreciate them for coming out. It means a lot,” he said.

Rodriguez also mentioned usually he would go out with friends after celebrating but he would also not be doing that this year.

Alonzo, Rodriguez’s aunt, said they started planning the drive-by last weekend.

“ We got the speaker and the microphone just for this,” she said.

The night before, the family got together to make their signs and prepare for the drive by. Alonzo said it was the best that could happen since social distancing is the norm now.

“ Usually, we have big parties and everyone runs around, but it’s tough. Hopefully this fades away soon. This is how we have to do it, different but fun,” Alonzo said.