Watch: Northeastern Regional gives birthday surprise to 5-year-old Mount Wolf boy
When 5-year-old Jackson Rowland's birthday party was canceled over coronavirus concerns, the Northeastern Regional Police Department stepped in to provide a birthday surprise for him — nothing short of a personal parade down his block.
Two police cars, one hauling a large digital sign that spelled out "Happy Birthday Jackson," led five firetrucks with sirens blaring down Olde Hickory Road in East Manchester Township on Sunday. One officer played "Happy Birthday" to Jackson over the patrol car's speaker while another officer brought him a bundle of gifts, including teddy bears, a coloring book and candy.
"He was pretty bummed out that he wasn't going to have his friends come to his birthday. We couldn't take him out to even get him ice cream or anything fun," said Holly Rowland, Jackson's mother. "Making him No. 1 even for that couple minutes while all this was going on definitely made his little day."
Rowland, who initially reached out to Northeastern Regional requesting an officer come by, said she didn't expect a small parade for her son.
Officer Gregory Bowers and Sgt. Arthur Archambeault, who coordinated the spectacle, invited the Eagle Fire Co. of Mount Wolf for the birthday festivities as an additional surprise.
"It makes me feel proud to be a police officer and share what we do with (Jackson) and let the community know we're out there for them," Bowers said. "He made me smile seeing him smile."
Knowing that many parties and events are being canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bowers said he wanted to help celebrate a special event with Jackson.
Jackson, who turned 5 on Sunday, was originally going to have a bowling birthday party with his preschool class.
With Jackson's love for all things police and fire, Rowland said she thought inviting Northeastern Regional to her neighborhood would be the perfect alternative.
"I am very proud of our first responders," Rowland said. "He definitely made some new friends yesterday."
— Reach Tina Locurto at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.