Police officer joins birthday parade for 5-year-old girl who dreams of being a first responder

Natalie Wolfe’s birthday will surely be one she’ll remember for years to come.

For months, the then four-year-old had been planning her fifth birthday. According to her mother, Andrea Wolfe, her ideas ranged from a pool party to hanging out in the park with friends and family. This party was meant to be a special celebration — but as the coronavirus pandemic forced the country into an indefinite quarantine, Andrea knew there was no way she’d be able to arrange the party of her daughter’s dreams.

Or so she thought.

As Natalie’s birthday inched closer, Andrea and her mother Jayne Williams came up with an excellent alternative: a family parade.

“It was just supposed to be a family parade is what we call it. It was [going to be] a couple of people drive by, honk, give gifts — not even that, just say hi. You know, because these are people she hasn't seen for months,” Andrea tells Yahoo Life.

The longer Andrea and her mother thought about the parade, however, the more she thought how cool it’d be if she included more people from the neighborhood and individuals her daughter looks up to, specifically first responders.

What started off as a social distancing family gathering soon became the surprise of a lifetime for Natalie. “I work as an investigator for an insurance company so a lot of my co-workers are prior law enforcement. And so they kind of helped me by pointing me in the right direction,” Andrea explained. “It was very easy. I just went to Charlotte's police department at cmpd.org and found my division and the two sergeants that would be on shift for the timeframe that we were doing the parade. I called the divisions number, left a message saying ‘Hey, can you pass this along to the sergeant and see what they can do.’ A couple of hours later, they happily contacted me back saying ‘Yes, we'll be there in like 10 minutes,’” she continued.

Andrea expressed that although the police officials agreed to surprise her daughter, she didn’t want to promise anything to Natalie, so when the big day arrived, Andrea and her mother brought Natalie to the driveway for what was supposed to be a fun arts and crafts birthday project.

About 10 minutes later, people started to arrive. First, Andrea’s sister and her husband stopped by to offer well-wishes for the birthday girl, then a few others. Shortly after, they heard a small horn that brought excitement to Natalie’s eyes.

A firetruck filled with first responders turned the corner into the family’s cul-de-sac and initially stunned the five-year-old. “She was actually kind of freaked at first,” Andrea says.

Once Natalie got over her initial shock, she excitedly ran around in circles in her driveway and eventually did a couple of laps around the truck before taking pictures with the firefighters.

The biggest surprise of all came when Natalie learned the sergeant happened to be a woman. Starstruck, Natalie’s dream of becoming a first responder herself seemed to be even more possible after seeing someone ‘who is a girl just like her.’”

5-year-old Natalie Wolfe of Charlotte, NC, was surprised by a birthday parade celebration and met some of her idols, first responders.
5-year-old Natalie Wolfe of Charlotte, NC, was surprised by a birthday parade celebration and met some of her idols, first responders.

Despite the adrenaline pumping, Andrea says Natalie knew not to physically interact with any of the responders.

“My niece is a type one diabetic, so we had to explain that from the beginning of the threat,” Andrea says. “We really had to prepare her early on explaining the germs. ‘Hey, no we can’t hug, we can blow kisses, we can do elbow bumps, we can do air hugs, but we want to make sure our own germs to stay ourselves.’ So she did really well with that, but I could tell it was hard.”

Zoom and parade parties have grown in popularity due to the government mandating self-isolation across the United States. As families practice staying safe and healthy in the confines of their homes, Natalie says these unprecedented times have ultimately taught her a lot about the parent she wants to be for her daughter.

“That work from home life which I know so many people struggle with right now, it's a struggle, but at the same time, it's when you do something right and you know, you can see your daughter or your son having that amazing moment or that learning moment. You know, when they figure out what adding actually means, even if it's two plus one and you are able to imprint that while also working and cooking dinner like it's gratifying,” Andrea says.

“It's an obstacle, but like there's a reward,” she added.

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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