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Three-alarm birthday parade for Mountain boy posted on 06/01/2020

When Welches resident Gideon Kasier joined his mother in their front yard on his seventh birthday on May 1, he expected the somewhat disappointing chore of pulling weeds to await him.

With the community under strict stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Gideon’s birthday was shaping up to be a quiet day, without the excitement of friends or a festive party.

The Kasier’s were tending to their yard when their task was interrupted by a rush of sirens and flashing lights as local emergency response vehicles from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), the Hoodland Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) began parading down the family’s street.

Gideon watched with excitement as the procession, led by a patrol car with a sign in the passenger window that stated, “Happy Birthday,” slowly passed his home. Members of all three departments waved and a Hoodland Fire Department truck stopped to lower the boy a gift bag. Gideon was excited to see the parade included the CCSO’s K9 officer, Grimm, his personal favorite.

“I got my son pretty good. He was not expecting it,” his mother, Hannah Korpela, said about the surprise parade.

“Gideon’s been pretty isolated because he hasn’t been able to see his classmates,” she said, explaining the difficulty of celebrating a young child’s birthday while social distancing.

Korpela contacted the CCSO to inquire about arranging a parade to make Gideon’s birthday special despite the restrictions of the quarantine after seeing the department post a similar surprise birthday parade on their Instagram page.

“I got an overwhelming response from the sheriff’s office almost immediately,” Korpela said.

CCSO representative Sergeant Marcus Mendoza stated the department was approached the first weekend of the stay-at-home order to participate in a socially distanced celebration for another child’s birthday in the county who was isolated due to the restrictions on group gatherings.

“It hit home. It made me think how (the quarantine) impacts kids. At a young age a birthday is one of the biggest days of their year,” Mendoza said. “We’ve been really trying to get out there and help them celebrate.”

The Clackamas sheriff’s office has participated in more than 20 similar surprise parades for county children during the stay-at-home restrictions. They have been joined by other county service providers, including local fire and police departments, the USFS and American Medical Response (AMR) representatives.

“We were all jazzed about doing it,” said Hoodland Fire Department’s temporary Deputy Chief Scott Kline about being part of Gideon’s birthday celebration. “Everyone working the shift (the birthday) was on was excited to participate.”

Mendoza explained that all participating departments first priority continues to be responding to calls and emergencies, but that the departments have been able to make at least an appearance close to the date and time of most parade requests. He added the CCSO is limiting the appearances to celebrations for children only.

“It’s a way to show some support for the community and the kids… to show them that their birthday is important,” said Mendoza.

“We’ve been trying to help with public outreach while keeping the department safe,” Klein added.

Korpela stated that Gideon was so impressed by the unexpected visit that he is working on a surprise of his own – thank you cards for those that participated.

“Gideon still talks about it. He thinks it was the best birthday.” Korpela said. “Now my youngest is like, ‘What’s going to happen for my birthday?’”

All departments that participated in the surprise parades emphasized that their first priority continues to be responding to calls. Further information or inquiries are requested to be addressed only by email to the CCSO at sheriffpio@clackamas.us.

By Ben Simpson/MT

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