Iowa Grandparents Make 140-Mile Roundtrip for Seconds-Long Birthday Surprise

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The pandemic may be keeping many families apart, but it didn’t keep a pair of grandparents from celebrating their 4-year-old grandson’s birthday in a special way.

“Who’s that?” Mary Ann Stammer asked her son Murphy, as his mouth dropped open. That’s because on Sunday, a crowd of families were driven to making sure Murphy Stammer’s special day in east Des Moines was one to remember.

It was an envoy of birthday surprises as cars drove by the Stammer home honking from blocks away. “It’s awesome just to see how many people would come out just to drive by for just a couple seconds to wave and say happy birthday,” said Mary Ann.

Even Murphy’s favorite reptile offered a short-armed wave. “T-Rex,” said Murphy referring to someone dressed up in a dinosaur costume.

Well wishers weren’t just limited to neighbors and close friends. Murphy’s grandparents made the drive nearly 70 miles away from Thayer just make the turn on Tiffin Avenue in east Des Moines.

“Awesome, absolutely awesome. For grandkids, you have to do what you have to do. I wouldn’t have missed it,” said Steve Murphy.

The smiles came from near and far. The neighborhood commotion provided a welcome change from the unfortunate isolation we’ve become accustomed to. Mary Ann said, “I’m not able to work right now because I’m a hair stylist, so to have sort of human interaction is kind of amazing and not just stuck inside.”

Keeping with social distancing, presents, cards and posters were dropped off near the sidewalk. “We kept our distance and at least had a grandkid day,” said Steve.

It was a parade under a pandemic made memorable for all ages. “It was worthwhile coming up. It was great just seeing that smile on that little boy’s face. I don’t know who enjoyed it more, him or us,” Steve said.

Murphy plans to use his fourth birthday to play with dinosaur and construction toys.

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