Busy with their careers and raising a family, Taylor Luther and her husband, Brett, just never found much time for getting to know their neighbors.
Also, some of the Luthers’ neighbors arrived only recently in the Dickson area behind the Roxy movie theater, leaving little time to make acquaintances.
So as Brady Luther’s fifth birthday was approaching, his mother was worried. Children’s’ birthday parties are often now mini-parades in keeping with social distancing practices, but as the Luthers’ white Ford Explorer cruised around the neighborhood streets, would people the family didn’t know be outside to greet Brady?
Hoping for the best, the Luthers put notes in mailboxes asking neighbors to go out on their lawns at 4 p.m. on Brady’s birthday, April 9, as the family rode by in their SUV.
“I was really nervous nobody was going to show up,” said Taylor Luther, an attorney whose husband works in finance. “I kind of thought maybe one or two people would come out.”
Instead there were dozens of people, members of some 20 or 25 households by Taylor’s estimate. Many held “Happy Birthday” signs, cheered and waved. One family approached the Luthers’ vehicle to give them balloons with a quick handoff to driver Brett through the window. There was even a present on a mailbox for the Luthers to pick up. (It turned out to be LEGOS.)
Taylor recorded it all on video and posted it to YouTube. She was so moved by the turnout that at one point in the video, she can be seen in the passenger-side mirror choking back tears.
“It was just a reminder of the good in the world,” she said. “For them to be there for a 5-year-old boy who couldn’t have a regular birthday party, it was really sweet.”
Brady didn’t say much during the ride, joining his mother in a couple of her many thank-yous to those who turned out.
“I think he was in shock,” she said.
Along for the ride were Taylor and Brett’s daughter, 3-year-old Ridley, as well as their infant son, Grayson, and Taylor’s 83-year-old grandmother, Lois Douglas.
That same day was also Taylor’s mother’s birthday. Edith Newberry of Burns turned 60 and rode behind the Luthers’ SUV in a white BMW sedan as friends trailed in another vehicle.
After driving through the neighborhood, the Luthers went to other parts of the county to celebrate with relatives.
Upon returning home hours later, they found out more good things about their neighbors.
Some of them weren’t home when the Luthers drove by, because of work or other reasons, so they couldn’t go out front and wave, Taylor said. Instead, these people left presents and cards on the Luthers’ doorstep.
All told, Taylor said she learned a lot that day. Society may have changed in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but people are finding new ways to brighten each other’s lives, she said.
Even the lives of those they don’t know.
“It just speaks volumes about the people here,” Taylor said.