Communities unite for birthday celebrations ruined by coronavirus lockdowns

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LONDON — Celebrating a birthday should be a joyous occasion for any child, but the coronavirus pandemic is making many miss out on their traditional parties.

But despite having to stay inside and avoid close contact with others, one community in Slovenia found a way to put smiles back on children’s faces.

In the capital Ljubljana, 6-year-old Dusan had no choice but to hold his birthday party indoors without his kindergarten friends, but his father, Vladimir Banic, arranged for them to send video greetings to his son.

Slovenia, where 577 coronavirus cases and six deaths have been confirmed, has been on lockdown for nearly two weeks with schools, shops, restaurants and playgrounds shuttered.

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Banic said that seeing his friends’ faces again, his son became emotional and watched the video dozens of times.

He said he promised to throw him a huge birthday party when the pandemic is over.

“We learned from this terrible situation that nothing is more valuable than time with family and friends,” added Banic, who is an NBC News contributor and a freelance digital journalist. “Missing human beings is the worst part of this battle with the virus, and kids are the most vulnerable to this.”

Neighbors on a street in the city of Southampton, on the south coast of England, also found a way to celebrate a young friend who was celebrating. They hung out of windows and stood in gardens to sing “Happy Birthday” in unison to Sophia as she turned 8 Wednesday.

The display of community affection during the United Kingdom’s ongoing lockdown response to the coronavirus was captured and shared online by her father, Rob Thomas, and has now been widely shared online and viewed more than 20,000 times on Twitter.

“Sophia is blown away, absolutely blown away by it. It’s all going a bit crazy,” he told NBC News.

Thomas and his wife put out a request on a neighborhood WhatsApp group for cards and virtual messages to cheer up their daughter and were taken aback when the neighborhood agreed to the singalong.