WILTON — In this time of the coronavirus and social distancing, many birthday parties are being canceled or put on hold, leading to much disappointment and sadness.

To bring back some of the festive party spirit, Vanessa Elias of Wilton has organized Wilton Birthday Parades.

People participate in the parades on a voluntary basis at a pre-arranged time. They decorate their cars, honk their horns, and shout out well wishes as they drive by the home of someone in Wilton having a birthday.

This past week, a birthday parade was organized for William Dunlap who turned 100 on April 23 at The Greens at Cannondale.

The parades brighten the day of the recipient as well as those who participate in them, according to Elias. “We are all so isolated now, it’s good to see people and feel connected to the community,” she said.

On her Facebook page, “Wilton Birthday Parades,” residents inform Elias about a birthday parade they would like for someone. The recipient can be any age — child through senior citizen. Elias in turn announces the time and location for the parade for anyone who would like to take part in it.

Past president of the Wilton Youth Council, Elias said her three kids are hooked on the parades. “I go to at least three a week. My kids ask me if there are any parades today. It’s becoming part of my daily life,” she said.

Her inspiration to start Wilton Birthday Parades came when her daughter Mia turned 16 on April 5. “She was bummed she couldn’t have a Sweet 16 party. So her friends did a surprise drive-by parade, with decorated cars and signs, honking their horns,” she said.

The experience was a lot of fun not only for her daughter but for people riding in the parade as well. “It was amazing to see a whole queue of cars, and people and their families,“ she said.

Seeing how much her daughter loved the experience, Elias decided to help others organize parades.

“Giving joy to the birthday person and seeing the enjoyment people get from participating in the parades is a win-win situation. It’s all about connection, human connection is the most important thing and the cornerstone of our happiness,” she said.

The Wilton Birthday Parade Facebook page has become a hit and now has more than 300 people following it. Directions for scheduling a birthday parade are on the page, along with directions if anyone would also like a drive by from Wilton first responders.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com