Cars, signs and balloons took over the streets of Newburgh Sunday, not for a holiday or town event, but a celebration for a local teen.
Ricky Brown turned 18 Wednesday, a milestone birthday, but due to COVID-19, not a single guest was able to be at the party.
When his mom posted the news on Facebook, in community group My Hometown Newburgh, IN, people noticed, which led to Misty Eilert organizing a celebratory parade for Brown.
She said she was determined to give Ricky the celebration he deserved.
"When somebody's down and having a bad day, it's our job to pick someone back up," said Eilert. "Everyone wanted to participate, get Ricky a card, send him a gift. I just asked [Ricky's mom] if it would be ok if we all did a little something for him and this is what it turned into: a parade."
Nobody showed up for Ricky's birthday, which is why Newburgh's first responders were eager to take part in the parade, to ensure the event had a turnout like no other.
"It really feels amazing and I know that all of our firefighters, when they found out the back story, everybody was brokenhearted," said Newburgh Volunteer Fire Department Captain J.C. Warren.
Members of the Newburgh Fire Department, Newburgh Police Department and local EMTs all led the way, in a procession full of cards and presents for Ricky, and even the shiny new three-wheeled bike he was hoping for.
"You could tell it definitely caught him off guard, that he was surprised," Warren said. "He was lighting up like a Christmas tree and it just really warmed all of our hearts to see."
But most importantly, the parade showed the heart of a close-knit community bringing joy and compassion to one of its most well-deserving members.
"Ricky, the community loves you and appreciates what a fine young man you are," Eilert said. "We wish you a happy 18th birthday."