GREAT FALLS — There’s no day more important in the life of a child than their birthday. But social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines in the time of COVID-19 make it hard to celebrate - so one Great Falls family enlisted some help.
Abbigale McRady turned three years old on Thursday. Her family originally planned a Paw Patrol-themed party but had to cancel once the coronavirus outbreak shut down social gatherings. Instead, the McCrady family invited their neighbors to celebrate with handmade signs and they obliged, lining up and down the street.
But the biggest surprise was yet to come. The McRady family contacted the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office earlier in the week, and on Thursday afternoon, deputies answered the call.
As Abbigale, her mother Emily, father Cody, and siblings Harley and Fletcher joined their neighbors in the Big Bend neighborhood just south of Great Falls, six CCSO patrol vehicles arrived in style to help celebrate with lights flashing and sirens wailing.
Abbigale was delighted.
“It was just awesome,” said Cody. “She got to get in the car and hit the siren, the guys at the sheriff’s department were just great.”
It wasn’t your typical birthday party. But given the circumstances, the deputies did their best to make it special for Abbigale and her family.
“It’s tough to tell a kid they can’t have a birthday party,” said deputy John Nolan. “So, if we can just provide a little bit of excitement for that and show up to do something like this, it doesn’t take much time out of our schedule and you can see the smile. It’s a good thing at the end of the day.”
It was a birthday held under forgettable circumstances - but it led to a moment the McRadys will always remember.
“It’s a good example of the Montana spirit,” Cody said. “You have people here that are just going to make the best out of whatever they can. People came together and it was a fun time.”
“All too often, (law enforcement) gets associated with bad things,” Nolan added “Or we show up for bad things. So when we get to come out in the community and engage in a positive manner, it’s a treat for us and a little bit of a break to be honest with you.”
Happy birthday Abbigale!