Fire crews spread cheer to birthday kids stuck at home


Andrew Ray turned 8 last month. And before he did, he spent many, many days at school planning his big day with his friends.

His parents had booked a movie theater party, complete with a viewing of the newest Sonic the Hedgehog film.

Then, the coronavirus shut down his school, Bayside Academy. And then, it shut down the movie theater.  Ray’s birthday plans were officially shut down too.

The coronavirus has cancelled national festivals, glitzy Hollywood award shows and the summer Olympics capturing headlines around the world.

But it also took a toll on weddings, family reunions, field trips and birthday parties.

Cue the new heroes of this birthday tale, the Fairhope Volunteer Fire Department. 

Like the good guys rescuing the day on the big screen, department volunteers headed down Ray’s street Monday, with sirens blazing, lights blinking and a happy birthday sign hung on the truck just for the second grader.

He stood in his front yard, flanked by his parents who took pictures and were relieved that the local heroes had rescued their son’s big day.

“I was very surprised,” Ray said on the phone afterwards. “I do love fire trucks because they help fight fires.”

The fire department has offered to spread birthday cheer to any child under age 12 who lives in the Fairhope VFD jurisdiction. So far the offer has been very popular and the crew is already booked to make more than a dozen birthday rides.

Ray’s mother, Katie, said the family is thankful for the support.

“We just can’t thank them enough. It’s a volunteer fire department so these people are just going above and beyond by doing this for the kids,” she said. “It really is making them feel so special at a time when everything is sort of turned upside down.”