FINDLAY, Ohio — What started off as a bummer birthday turned into a community celebration for one 7-year-old in Findlay last weekend.
Brayden Gominger was set to go bowling for his birthday on Sunday, but because of Ohio's stay-at-home order, his party had to be canceled.
"He was really upset and kept saying he was going to have the worst birthday since he can't be in school with his friends or have his bowling party," Brayden's mom, Lindsay Caudill said.
Caudill made a post on Facebook Saturday night, asking for help to pull something together despite the circumstances. That's where she got the idea to organize a parade.
"I was determined to make it special for him. A friend of mine sent me the idea of the parade, so I reached out to my family and his friends that were supposed to go to his bowling party. They agreed to show up with signs, noise makers, yelling out the window, honking," Caudill said.
The whole thing was whipped up overnight, and continued to grow in size. A local sheriff's deputy even signed on to guide the group.
"It actually turned out bigger than I expected and had no idea that someone reached out to ask the deputy to lead the way. Word spread about it and more people showed up, some people I didn't know," Caudill said.
Here's how the big reveal came to fruition: At the scheduled time, Caudill and Brayden's dad took him outside to play some basketball. Once Caudill saw the cars roll in, she pulled out her camera.
With sirens blaring, and his family honking, Brayden began to put the pieces together.
"He noticed his grandma's car and yelled out 'is this for me?' with the biggest shock and smile on his face. He said it was the best birthday," Caudill said.
On top of the big parade, Caudill said Brayden received video messages, homemade cards and had neighbors singing "Happy Birthday" from their driveways.
Plus, Brayden got to celebrate with his classmates after all. His first grade teacher at Liberty Benton, Mrs. Lloyd, organized a video chat with her students so they could wish him a happy birthday - which was just the icing on the cake.
"The power of social media is amazing. I never expected his birthday to turn out like this when we had to cancel but (I'm) so thankful and appreciative to everyone that took time out of their day to make his day special," Caudill said.
Caudill said Brayden felt loved and it ended up being the best birthday he's ever had.