SACKETS HARBOR — On Tuesday night, a mother of five posted a simple request to a local Facebook page for village residents asking for the locations of homes displaying bears in the windows for passing children to see, hoping to take her youngest son out on a “bear hunt” the following day for his birthday.
Going above and beyond, villagers decided to make the boy’s day extra special by organizing a parade for him in under 24 hours.
Smiling from ear to ear, Lincoln Streif stood by the side of the road near the gazebo in Sackets Harbor as dozens of cars, led by a police car and followed by a firetruck, drove by honking horns, blasting music and displaying handmade signs in honor of his special day. Even the firetruck displayed the words ‘Happy Birthday’ on the side.
“I woke up this morning and there was a whole thread about it,” Mrs. Streif said. “With the page and the whole community, anytime someone says, ‘OK let’s do this,’ everyone is instantly on board — they’re here for anybody, anytime, for anything.”
Joined by his parents, Christin and Russell “Rocky” Streif, a substitute nurse and teacher and a major in the Army, respectively, as well as his four older brothers, Shepard, Anthony, Graham and Jameson, Lincoln watched in awe with his family as villagers showed their support for the new residents, who moved to the area from Tennessee this summer.
The vehicles met up at 4:45 p.m. at the Sunoco gas station to get organized and then drove en masse to Main Street and past the gazebo.
The police siren could be heard from miles away, with the excitement among the five boys, ranging in age from 5 to 11, rising as it came closer. Once the parade finally came into sight all five boys ran to the side of the road with Lincoln yelling back to his parents “they’re coming!”
One man in the passenger side of a vehicle held a bunch of balloons attached to a weight outside of the car. When he got closer to the birthday boy, he threw it lightly to land on the side of the road for Lincoln to rush over and pick up.
Unbeknownst to the man in the car, Lincoln had lost his special birthday balloon about 20 minutes before, so the surprise was extra special. He said the balloons definitely made up for the one that had floated off into the horizon.
Aside from balloons, other parade participants gave Lincoln small wrapped gifts like coloring books and chalk to keep the fun going long after his birthday.
“It means a lot to be able to do something that’s memorable for him when we can’t have a party and we can’t take him somewhere, to be able to do something special even in these circumstances,” Mrs. Streif said.
Mrs. Streif shared that she and the kids have been in quarantine for nearly two weeks now, so the fresh air was a nice change for all of them.
After the parade was over, the Streif family returned home to watch “Onward” and eat pizza and cupcakes, a sweet end to a fun filled day.
In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, both the Streif family and the parade participants were humbled by the support a small community could pull off in a short amount of time, coming together to bring some light into what is being viewed as a dark time.
“It just means a lot that the community is willing to go out of their way and do something special for somebody that most of them don’t even know just to make his day special,” Mrs. Streif said.