One group of Bozeman firefighters took it upon themselves to spread some joy Sunday afternoon, organizing a parade through their neighborhoods.
It has been a week-and-a-half since Governor Steve Bullock’s stay-at-home order due to COVID-19's spread, though many people have been home much longer than that thanks to a switch towards working from home and practicing social distancing. That time spent in one place might causing a bout of cabin fever for some.
But the haze of claustrophobic indoor life for some Bozemanites was broken on Sunday: with the honk of their horns and a scream from their sirens, the Hyalite Fire Department lead a full-on parade through the neighborhoods they cover in south Bozeman.
For Abby and Josh Hernandez and their young sons, Xavi and Chase, the parade felt more like a party. They boys ate ice cream, held handmade signs, and waved American flags under a bright blue sky. Neighbors gathered in their own driveways and cheered for the parade of passing fire trucks.
Said Abby: “My three-year-old, after the trucks went by was like, ‘That was awesome.’ He was just so excited about it.”
The fire department's dozen-or-more fire engines and trucks twisted through through each of the neighborhoods they cover in the Hyalite Fire District for over three hours on Sunday afternoon. "With the current COVID-19 pandemic we know everyone is working hard to get through this difficult situation," the department's Facebook page promoting the event reads. "We hope our parade will promote community strength and hope."
While it might have just been a fun parade for children, for the parents that have been baring the weight of kids at home and a house that’s feeling smaller every day, Sunday gave people of all ages something to get excited about.
“I was excited because the kids were excited," said Hernandez. "They have been missing all their friends so it was just something to look forward to.”
Teachers from local schools joined the line halfway through the parade, using handwritten signs to praise parents and let students know they’re missed.
The stay-at-home order didn’t stop the word from spreading quickly, with neighbors setting up chairs, blowing horns, and making signs to celebrate; all safely six feet apart.
“I think it’s been hard, you know, like Bozeman people love going out and socializing and we’re lucky we can still go out and do those things but it’s nice to hang out with friends," Hernandez said. "I think it was just a really nice thing that they did for the neighborhood.”