‘Honk, 4 my birthday’
In these days of a coronavirus-filled world, one never knows what you’re going to find along the roadside.
In late April as I was traveling between my offices in Kasson and Blooming Prairie, I stumbled across some commotion at the end of a driveway just outside Hayfield. As I went by, I honked my horn because that’s what I was instructed to do thanks to a poster declaring, “Honk 4 my birthday.”
As any good journalist would do, I quickly turned around to find out exactly what was going on along Hwy. 56. I found Anthony Schnable celebrating his 10th birthday along with his parents Nancy and Andrew and his younger brother, Ethan.
Only in a COVID-19 induced society is one going to find a family gathered at the end of a driveway in the middle of the country celebrating a special occasion.
It’s not exactly the way Anthony envisioned celebrating the first of his double-digit birthdays, but things are anything but normal these days. The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything.
Anthony and his family practiced social distancing by decorating a golf cart and spending the day camped out at the end of the driveway. They took turns flashing the honking motion to get passing truckers to blast their horns and other vehicles to chime in with a few toots.
While getting passing motorists to recognize Anthony’s birthday, the family enjoyed a baseball-themed lunch of hot dogs, chips and a baseball ice cream cake from Nick and his crew at the Blooming Prairie Dairy Queen. Anthony was decked out in his Chicago Cubs jersey in honor of a baseball season that has yet to be.
Asked what he thought about his birthday, Anthony responded, “It’s weird.”
“It’s a different way of celebrating,” acknowledged Anthony’s mom. “You do what you can.”
Added his father Andrew, “I don't think we will do this every year for your birthday.”
As a MnDOT snow plow made its way northbound on Hwy. 56, Nancy asked out loud, “Do you think we can get a snow plow to honk in April?” They all motioned their arms high in the air and within seconds, the snow plow blasted its horn, bringing chuckles and smiles to the faces of Anthony and his brother.
A little while later a semi truck came by and laid on its horn. “That was kind of a wimpy one for a semi,” Nancy commented about the horn. “Some are really big.”
The original plan was for the family to go to Dave & Busters, an arcade in the Twin Cities, for Anthony’s birthday. But once the COVID-19 crisis forced families to stay at home, the Schnables rolled with the punches and came up with a different way to celebrate.
The Schnables hit the end of their driveway around 9 a.m. and planned to stay there until mid-afternoon.
Even though it wasn’t what the family had in mind, Nancy said they had fun with Anthony’s birthday. “You make the best of every situation,” she says. “It’s a big birthday with him turning double digits. This is one to remember, that’s for sure.”
Nancy hopes the stay-at-home restrictions will loosen up next month when both she and her husband have big birthdays. They both turn 40 this year. “We hope we can celebrate,” she said. “If not, you’ll be seeing us at the end of the driveway,” she added.
And, if that happens, the Schnables at least have a little practice under their belts.
“For now, this is as good as it gets,” Nancy said.
All we can do is hope that families going in hot pursuit of celebrating birthdays will be able to do so without restrictions much longer.