Friends rally to help teen celebrate social distance-friendly birthday

Elvis serenades 15-year-old Jaiden Broyles, not pictured, during her social distance birthday party Sunday in Morristown.

Jaiden Broyles was supposed to get a nice night out at the Melting Pot in Knoxville for her 15th birthday.

The Morristown teen had been planning for the night of gooey-cheese and delicious, desserts coated in warm, melted-chocolate for months.

The Coronavirus cancelled those plans, or at least delayed them, and it left the teenager feeling blue, according to family friend Darlene LaPlue.

So Darlene, with the help of some friends, made a social distance friendly-plan.

“We said, ‘OK, we gotta do something. You have a party inside the house and we’ll do something outside,” she said.

LaPlue and her daughters went over to the Broyles’ house early Sunday morning and decorated the outside with streamers, banners and balloons.

Jaiden woke up, was served breakfast in bed and then got up to look outside.

She was thrilled.

“It was a smashing success,” LaPlue said. “She called us and said, ‘I didn’t know somebody could be loved this much.’ … it was very sweet.”

But the party wasn’t over. A friend of LaPlue’s was inspired to do more. Somebody came up with the idea of a birthday parade.

Things came together quickly.

“Word travelled out and we ended up with nine vehicles that were decorated and people came in wild costumes and hat,” LaPLue said. “We even had Elvis Presley – when his van pulled up in front of her house, he jumped out and played a song.”

Each vehicle in the parade – including a lawn mower business truck hauling a trailer full of riding lawnmowers with a rider in each seat - represented a separate family and social distancing standards were maintained. The decorated car would pull up and honk and Jaiden – wearing a bright blue formal gown she was encouraged to wear by her mother and standing on the front porch - would be serenaded.

“People would stop in front of her house and jump and sing and play happy birthday and move on,” LaPlue said. “I think we made a young teenage girl feel pretty special. It was such a nice distraction from all the madness happening around the world.”