BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. (WDVM) — With social distancing and stay-at-home orders in effect across the U.S., 2020 may be the year of disappointing special occasions. One Berkeley County high school student was still able to have an 18th birthday to remember, while keeping a safe distance from her loved ones.
Skylar Fleming is a Musselman High School student. On April 1, her street in Inwood, West Virginia, filled with unexpected traffic. It was a socially-distant birthday parade, made up of 21 cars.
“Honestly, I was surprised and about to cry when I seen everyone coming down the street and seeing how many cars were in attendance,” Fleming told WDVM.
Her friend, Mallory Painter, was one of the organizers of the birthday surprise. “Skylar is the beloved Musselman HS girls volleyball manager. The parade was made up of members of her team, coach, assistant principal as well as other family and friends,” Painter said in an email to WDVM.
Fleming’s volleyball teammate Abigail McCoy suggested a few volleyball friends get together to surprise her — and it turned into a two dozen car parade — Fleming’s mom, Erica Smith, told WDVM.
Smith said Skylar struggled with peer-to-peer relationships during her early teen years, and a local coach suggested she try managing the high school volleyball team. After two seasons, the head volleyball coach told Smith “the team needed Skylar more than Skylar needed the team.”
Fleming said she was upset when she first realized she couldn’t have the 18th birthday she imagined. She said knew she would get to celebrate with them later on, once COVID-19 wasn’t a threat to public safety anymore.
“She wasn’t cut short because of the quarantine. She brought a beautiful light to a dark spot in today’s world. And brought us together for a moment of smiles, laughs and friendship,” Smith told WDVM.
“My mother and stepfather decorated the porch and yard, and tried to capture as much of the parade as they could to make my memory last a lifetime,” Fleming said.
Note: Two days later, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice placed additional restrictions on the Eastern Panhandle counties. These restrictions limit groups to fewer than five people. More on the new restrictions can be read here.