Living through coronavirus: Shutdown means Middletown 8th birthday party will become parade

You have to give Nate and Jess Lawson credit for being persistent about their son’s 8th birthday party.

Michael Lawson, a second-grader at Wildwood Elementary School in Middletown, was supposed to celebrate his birthday with a skating party at Skateway with his buddies. Then the skating rink, considered a non-essential business by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, closed over concerns with the coronavirus.

So his parents changed plans and decided to host a birthday party for family and friends, but since that would have involved more than 10 people and gone against DeWine’s orders, that was canceled.

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“He was heartbroken,” she said of her son. “He’s at that age where he doesn’t understand why he can’t see people.”

That brings us the third idea: On Saturday, their son’s birthday, they are throwing a birthday party parade in hopes his friends, classmates, teachers and a few Middletown police officers can drive by, honk and wave.

People who want to participate are asked to gather in the former IGA parking lot on Vannest Avenue by 6 p.m. Saturday. From there the parade will drive down Bexley Drive and past the Lawson house. Michael will be standing at the end of the driveway and greet people — while staying at least six feet away — as they pass in their vehicles.

His mother said 20 people have committed to attending through an invitation on Facebook and she’s hoping a few Middletown police officers can attend too. Michael played youth basketball on the Future Middies team this year and his coach was Police Maj. Malcolm Tipton.

After this season, her son said he wanted to become a police officer and concentrate on playing basketball instead of soccer, his mother said.

“He loves the police,” she said.

The coronavirus also altered the birthday plans for their daughter, Chloe, a freshman at Middletown High School. She turned 15 on March 31 and instead of having her party at Olive Garden, they carried out and ate at home.

Jess, 34, still works full-time for Interscope Manufacturing in Middletown and since it produces items for the Procter & Gamble line, her job is considered essential. Her husband, Nate, 35, an IT manager for a company in Florence, Ky., works out of the basement at home.

When asked to describe the coronavirus, Jess said: “It’s disastrous. This is something I never thought I’d see in my whole lifetime. This is crazy.”


We’re looking to profile people throughout our coverage area about how the coronavirus is impacting your daily life. If you’re interested in sharing your story about how you’re affected or adapting to the situation, call Journal-News reporter Rick McCrabb at 513-483-5216 or email

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