GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – Social distancing has stopped large gatherings but many in South Mississippi aren’t letting it rain on their parade. Communities are getting creative to celebrate their loved ones’ special days.
Darian Huddleston turned 15 Wednesday. He was expecting a birthday like any other but what he got instead was a unique celebration that he will always cherish.
In addition to being autistic, the teen has a very rare genetic syndrome that causes him to have intellectual and physical disabilities.
Led by Gulfport first responders, Darian’s family and friends threw a parade to wish the teen a happy birthday. And they pulled out all the stops.
The parade was led by firefighters and featured a smoke show. Spongebob Squarepants – Darian’s favorite character – even put in an appearance.
“It just shows that we do have a good community and no matter what is going on people do have good hearts,” said Darian’s mother Stephanie Huddleston.
One of the cool visual aspects was the Southern Mayhem Brotherhood motorcycle club’s burnout. The group showed off their bikes, roaring their engines right in front of the birthday boy.
“We’re going to be smiling all night about this. I know underneath that helmet I was cheesing hard,” said Hobby, the president of Southern Mayhem Brotherhood Hobby.
As much as Darian enjoyed himself, those who came out to celebrate him had just as much fun.
“It was great,” said Hobby. “His mother invited us out here and told us what was going on and it’s just wonderful to bring smiles to these people in such a hard time and to see his face doing a burnout.. everyone just coming together. It was wonderful.”
It was a sentiment that was shared by everyone that took part in the parade.
“We love coming out and doing this very often,” said Lt. Brandon Necaise with Gulfport Fire Department. “When we put smiles on other people’s faces, it makes us smile twice as much as it does them.”
Darian’s mother applauded the community for helping make this her son’s best birthday yet, even with the need to social distance.
“It is so great to have that type of community support and friends that will be there for him at the drop of a dime,” said Stephanie Huddleston. “It’s very nice to know that he is loved that much.”
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