Kristen Parent wanted to do something special for her daughter Isabel’s sixth birthday.

Because of COVID-19, the family’s five-year-running tradition of taking Isabel to the Nitty Gritty for unlimited soda and a balloon was not possible this year. But the family still coordinated some surprise fanfare for Isabel’s birthday anyway.

The surprise involved a bit of a trick. Jennifer Anderson, owner of Angelic Angles photography business, came over to take photos of Isabel and her family – including Kristen, her dad Casey and her 8-year-old sister Addison – outside of their home for the birthday.

As Andersen shot some photos, a parade started coming around the corner. In addition to two fire trucks, several police squad cars, a FitchRona EMS ambulance and the Nitty Gritty mobile, over 20 cars with family and friends drove past.

“When she realized she was turning 6 during the Safer at Home order, Izzy asked a lot of questions: ‘What does that mean? Can I see my family and friends?’” Kristen said. “So we said no, but you can have ice cream for breakfast, presents for lunch and cake for dinner.”

Little to Isabel’s knowledge, that wasn’t all she was getting for her birthday.

Kristen called Nitty Gritty and asked if they could record a video with a mug and balloon, telling Isabel they’d be waiting for her after the “Safer at Home” order is lifted.

“Owner Lee Pier said ‘I can do you one better’,” Kristen said, sending an employee to the family’s house in the business’ colorful fully-wrapped car.

After that, Kristen decided she had nothing to lose and reached out to the fire and police departments asking if they could send a truck and squad car past the house with lights and sirens on. The departments agreed, so long as they were not needed for an emergency.

Some of the passengers included Isabel’s kindergarten teacher from Stoner Prairie Elementary School and three classmates.

“I set the bar pretty high for our household and for other households for future birthdays,” Kristen said.

Neal Patten, community reporter, can be contacted at