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Firefighters to the rescue with noisy birthday greetings

Several departments want to see kids smile

Nolan Weddell, 8, and his brother Kael, 5, both of Granville, jump with excitement as a fire truck driven by Granville fire chief Ron Campbell rides past his home. Nolan celebrated his eighth birthday as the fire department paraded past his home. The dinosaur is being used as part of a scavenger hunt in the community.
Nolan Weddell, 8, and his brother Kael, 5, both of Granville, jump with excitement as a fire truck driven by Granville fire chief Ron Campbell rides past his home. Nolan celebrated his eighth birthday as the fire department paraded past his home. The dinosaur is being used as part of a scavenger hunt in the community.

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For the first time, Nolan Weddell was going to have an all-kids birthday party and it was going to be held at Elevate Trampoline Park in Peoria.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and recommendations to practice social distancing, his party was canceled.
But thanks to the Granville Fire Department, Weddell’s eighth birthday will be one to be remembered.
Granville fire chief Ron Campbell drove by Weddell’s home in Granville late Tuesday morning with sirens blaring and lights flashing.
“It made me feel really good and excited,” said Weddell, whose 5-year-old brother, Kael, also was excited by the drive by. “His sirens were on and he sang happy birthday to me.”
The fire truck drive-by was scheduled after the Granville Fire Department Facebook page posted Monday evening that it would offer the birthday celebrations.
“Times like these are trying for everyone,” the post read. “We want to join numerous other fire departments doing something special. Times are especially difficult for kids. They don’t understand why they have to stay inside. They don’t understand why they can’t play with their friends. They don’t understand why their birthday part is canceled.”
Nolan’s mother, Janelle, saw the post and contacted the fire department even though Nolan’s birthday had already happened on Sunday.
“It was already a day late but I thought, ‘ Boy, that would be cool because this was going to be the first year he had an all kids birthday party and it got canceled,’” Janelle Weddell said. “Now he’s saying it was the best birthday he’s ever had.
“It’s unbelievably heartwarming. Thinking of the children and what they’re missing in this time we’re all stuck at home, it’s mind blowing how thoughtful it was.”
Campbell said he saw the idea on the Dalzell Fire Department’s Facebook page and wanted to bring it to Putnam County.
“I thought it was something good for their kids to give them a little bright spot because they’re missing out on so much,” Campbell said. “My grandson just had a birthday and he was unable to have a party. I just thought it was a great idea. I asked Dalzell if I could steal it and they said yes.”
Campbell said he’s received a great response so far with eight visits lined up as of Tuesday morning.
He had four scheduled on Tuesday with four more scheduled through April 11.
Campbell’s Facebook post had 55 comments, 337 likes and 400 shares Tuesday morning, while Dalzell’s took off as well with 36 comments, 136 likes and 108 shares. “It’s taken off,” Campbell said. “It’s been all positive. It has been shared off our page I don’t know how many times from all over the place.”
The Hennepin and Manlius fire departments also posted on Facebook they would offer birthday drive bys as well.


Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at kchlum@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.

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