Gardner, Edgerton organizing parades every day to make sure celebrations aren’t forgotten

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GARDNER, Kan. — The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing people to change their plans, and many are getting creative about how they celebrate things like birthdays, graduations and anniversaries.

By now you’ve probably seen your share of celebration parades on social media, but there are few like the parades in Gardner.

“I thought, why not try it with the entire city of Gardner and get all the citizens involved, whether we know the kiddos or not?” organizer Kerry Hamel said.

Thanks to Hamel, the Gardner and Edgerton communities have organized at least one parade every single day since the day after the state’s stay-at-home order went into effect.

She said they’ve done more than 100 parades.

“Today we had five. On average, I’d say it’s probably about five or six parades a day,” Hamel said.

Blakely Wells is one of the five kids celebrating a birthday today. Although she doesn’t get a traditional party this year, the parade didn’t disappoint.

“We absolutely loved it,” her mom, Katy Wells, said. “The best part was getting to see her teacher. A lot of her teachers jumped in the parade and were able to just make that connection.”

Hamel spends about an hour and a half each night organizing multiple parades for the following day. She calls it her labor of love.

“To see the people’s faces, the kiddos’ faces and the parents’ faces — it just makes me so happy every day,” Hamel said.

If only for a moment, Hamel wants to bring a little light into people’s lives.

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