Students find new ways to connect for special occasions

Photo from Mia Fischetti
Senior MIa Fischetti's family turned her birthday into a trip to the movies, including movie tickets.

Turning 18 years old during social isolation is disappointing, so Mia Fischetti’s family found a way to make her birthday like a movie — complete with personalized movie tickets, a home concession stand, and “Mia Money.”

Fischetti and her family are among those in the Baldwin community who have found unique ways to celebrate birthdays and other special days.

The Fischettis watched Call of the Wild during her birthday movie night, which was an idea stemming from a TikTok. 

“I’ve always liked going to the movies,” Fischetti said.

The concession stand her family made consisted of a variety of candies and popcorn.

In addition to the movie theme set up by her family, Fischetti’s friends also held a car parade outside her house.

“My friends all drove by in their cars and they beeped outside of my house,” Fischetti said. “It made my day.”

It was definitely unconventional, but I can say it’s a birthday I’ll never forget.”

— Darryn Sleeman

Prior to the virus. Fischetti had planned on going to dinner with her family.

“I think it will definitely be one of my most memorable birthdays,” she said.

Senior Beth Yauch’s friends also helped make her 18th birthday special.

They surprised her with signs, presents, and a parade outside her house on April 17.

“I was totally surprised. I had no idea,” Yauch said. “I’m so happy I got to see them, and I felt really loved and included. It honestly made my whole day.”

Yauch had not lined up anything special for her big day. 

“We really didn’t have any plans. My cousins came over later that night and we just hung out and had cake,” Yauch said. “I’m not disappointed because I still had a great day.” 

Senior Darryn Sleeman’s 18th birthday also got a boost from friends and family with a surprise parade outside of her home on March 29.

“I was so shocked, because I had absolutely no idea that they had planned it,” Sleeman said. “It was such a great surprise to see everyone.”

Despite social isolation disrupting her original birthday plans, it ended up being a memorable day.

“After the parade, I went on a bike ride in South Park and had dinner with my family,” Sleeman said. “It was definitely unconventional, but I can say it’s a birthday I’ll never forget.”

Sophomore Keegan Rohland, meanwhile, pulled together with a few others to help kids celebrate Easter by donning an Easter bunny costume and riding through area streets in a convertible.

“It didn’t really feel like Easter because of everything going on,” Rohland said. “I thought being involved in this would help.”

Rohland’s involvement began when her mom saw a Facebook post proposing the idea from Amber Mingo. Rohland already had a bunny costume from previous events that she had helped with at her church, so she decided to do it.

“I was a little nervous, but I agreed to do it because I knew how much it would make the little kids around the neighborhood happy,” Rohland said.

Rohland and Mingo both dressed as bunnies. Each one was driven along a side of Route 51, so they could hit both Whitehall and Baldwin. 

Rohland’s parents mapped out the Whitehall areas the night before and planned the routes and estimated the times. Mingo was in charge of the Baldwin side.

The routes and times were posted on Facebook and kids all over the Baldwin-Whitehall district area came to see the Easter Bunny. 

“When we started doing this, I didn’t realize how many people would be standing outside to see the bunny,” Rohland said. “Kids came running out of their houses in pajamas with their own DIY bunny ears, waving at me and blowing kisses. It was so cute how excited they got.”