COURTESY JULIE CAMP
Eight-year-old Harper Camp poses with her sign.
Harper Camp said she waved to at least a million people during her birthday parade on March 28. Hyperbole aside, the eight-year-old's mom Julie Camp surprised her early in the morning with a large sign in the front yard of their quiet St. Charles neighborhood. It read "Honk! Happy birthday, Harper is eight."
Originally, the party was supposed to be biology-themed for the budding scientist. Wildlife experts, a face painter, science activities and more than 50 kids were supposed to help Harper celebrate her birthday.
However, due to social distancing mandates and the coronavirus spreading at a rapid rate, Julie Camp canceled the party. However, she was not ready to give up on making her only child's birthday special.
"I decided to create a Facebook event called 'Honk for Harper,' and I invited everybody on my friends list to drive by our home and honk, hoot, holler," Camp says. "During this difficult time, we have to get creative for celebrations."
When Harper woke up on Saturday morning, she peeked out the window to the large colorful sign. She was in total shock. There was no party, as far as she knew. When her mom explained the idea, Harper got on board.
So, they set up in the driveway. Two or three lawn chairs, their great sign made by Card My Yard
and a cloudy Saturday morning accompanied the women as they waited for their parade.
"I was so nervous," Julie Camp says. "I invited all my friends, and only 44 people said they were coming. I wanted it to be big."
The mom reminded everyone on her Facebook, sent emails to Harper's teacher, and the teacher forwarded the message to the principal. Then, the email quickly spread to the whole school.
At least 123 cars rolled through for Harper's day.
"From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., we were swamped," Julie Camp said. "Cars were lined up all the way on my street."
COURTESY JULIE CAMP
Harper poses with her presents people dropped off during the parade.
Camp works as a teacher at a middle school. Retired colleagues that she has not seen in ten years showed up and brought Harper a birthday card. Former students who are close to 30 years old, current students, Harper's classmates, fellow Girl Scouts and extended family all showed up.
"It was the most awesome birthday I've had," Harper said after waving for three hours straight.
Sitting in her lawn chair surrounded by all the new presents she has, Harper waved to the last few cars of her birthday parade. Rain started to fall from the sky. Harper huddled into the garage with her mom who refused to let a virus ruin her birthday.
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