Long Island business owner conducts over 200 birthday parades for community

PATCHOGUE, New York -- Birthdays, graduations, and large gatherings have had to be put on hold due to social distancing restrictions. One Long Island business owner had to shut down her party rental business at the start of her busiest season.

Even though she could not conduct business as usual, she decided to find a way to bring joy into her community by conducting free car parades!

"Anything to bring a smile to a child's face or even an older person's face who can't see their family right now and celebrate the way they want to celebrate," said Gabby Heilman, the creator of Pat-Med Birthday Parades. "I just decided to do it out of the kindness of my heart to give back to my community."

It started out with her and a few friends surprising one another with a line of cars, but soon after Heilman had to create a Facebook page to keep track of all the birthday requests she had received from the Patchogue and Medford communities.

With the help of her two children, every day they prep the car with balloons, streamers, and birthday signs.

The Facebook group soon grew to over 500 members, filled with videos and pictures from every parade Heilman had conducted for them.

Members of the group even got to surprise Heilman with a thank you parade for all that she has done for them during these hard times.

"Giving back to the community can never hurt," said Heilman. "It makes me feel good as a person to be able to do it."

Since Long Island has entered phase 2 of reopening, Heilman was able to reopen her party rental business, but says she will continue to conduct car parades throughout the month of June.

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