Birthday Parade 2yr
Kathryn in Atlanta, GA
The Birthday Parade By the time our son Jake turned two, like so many little ones, he was wild about things with wheels. He didn't really "specialize" as some little ones do...he loved cars, trucks, tractors, trains, construction and emergency vehicles equally. So we wanted to have a party that celebrated these interests. We decided that a parade of "Things That Go!" would be perfect. We made invitations by scanning a picture of him and adding a clipart crown and baton (as if he were the grand marshall) and wrote: "You're Invited to Jake's Birthday Parade!" Inside we wrote: "Please bring your favorite wheels to push, pull, or ride in a birthday parade for the boy who loves things that go!" We included the starting point (our house); time; parade route (about 6 blocks); destination (the community land trust/park nearby); etc. On the back we added a little picture of Jake turning backwards on his favorite ridetoy with a quote, "See ya there!" Children and adults came with tricycles and bicycles and wagons and strollers. One friend came wheeling his wife on a portfolio cart that he travels with for business! Another rode a tiny mini-bike and circled like a shriner through the slower moving crowd! Jake's grandfather drove a vintage car he pulls out for special occasions and served as the pace car. We made a birthday tape of songs about wheels: the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride," Woodie Guthrie's "Ridin' In My Car," "Bumpin Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon," and others. We wheeled a boombox in the wagon and played the music. During the entire parade, there was not a single person who was not smiling! Including the birthday boy! One three year-old looked up at me from her tricycle about a block into the parade and said, "This is the best party ever!" Once we arrived at the Land Trust, the party was pretty low-key. The children played in a big sandpile where we had left lots of construction vehicles. I had made beanbags out of various vehicle print fabrics and the older children played an unstructured game tossing them into a large toy dumptruck. (Jake "helped" me make the beanbags and picked out the fabric scraps at the local fabric store. He was thrilled because they had many vehicle prints. It is months later now and he still loves playing with the beanbags.) At the party, we ate cake (decorated with one matchbox vw bug, a favorite!) and snacks on picnic tables covered with vehicle print fabric. We visited, laughed about the scene our parade had made, rested from the walk, opened gifts, and shuttled parents back home to pick up their cars so the children didn't have to walk or pedal or be pulled back! We had added a note in the invitation saying that in lieu of gifts (because at two, he already had so many things!), to please consider bringing a photograph of yourself with your favorite vehicle for his scrapbook. Some people brought other gifts, but many instead brought photos of themselves -- including one little friend on a tractor, one on a motorcycle, one in a bike trailer, others in family cars. Jake loved the pictures as much as the other gifts and I think the event was less overwhelmed by material things. And he loves the scrapbook we were able to make of his second birthday. We gave out noisemakers as party favors (train whistles and handclappers) that were used during the parade. We added car stickers and a little wooden car on which we wrote "Jake is Two!" in the favor bag that went home with each child. All were inexpensive bulk purchases. Jake's godfather took digital shots of the entire parade. We printed and cut out a picture of each child in the parade for the thank-you notes.