Drive-by birthday surprise for Valencia teen

Tommy Patton celebrates his 16th birthday by waving to a caravan of friends and family driving past his house as a way to celebrate together while still abiding by social distancing regulations. March 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal
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Being stuck at home during spring break because of the coronavirus has left many Santa Clarita Valley teens bummed out — but how would you feel if it were also your 16th birthday?

While Valencia resident Tommy Patton was sad he couldn’t invite his friends over for a party to celebrate his 16th on Sunday like he had planned, he was still thankful to be celebrating at home with his family.

“I woke up to my dad getting me breakfast and a card, and we went driving,” he said. “I thought that was (the extent of) my day. It was fun, and I really enjoyed it.”

Tommy Patton stands next to his mother Lori after celebrating his 16th birthday by waving to a caravan of friends and family driving past his house as a way to celebrate together while still abiding by social distancing regulations. March 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Still, Tommy’s mother, Lori Patton, decided to take matters into her own hands, ensuring her son would feel some of the special birthday cheer he deserved.

“I just want Tommy to feel special,” she said. “It’s his 16th birthday, which is kind of a milestone.”

Taking the idea from a video she had seen, Lori enlisted the help of her husband and two other sons to plan a drive-by birthday caravan out front of their home for Tommy.

Tommy Patton celebrates his 16th birthday by waving to a caravan of friends and family driving past his house as a way to celebrate together while still abiding by social distancing regulations. March 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

“I was so touched by (the idea), and I thought how sweet the fact that people can be safe in their own cars, and still wish someone a happy birthday,” she said. “So, I thought, you know what? I wonder if I can pull it off.”

So, she put out the invitations, unsure if anyone would even show up. “And I tried to keep it a secret because I wanted it to be a total surprise — and it was.”

Later that afternoon, Tommy’s little brother convinced him to go out to play some football. It wasn’t long before the surprise caravan began making its way down their cul-de-sac and cars began honking.

Tommy Patton celebrates his 16th birthday by waving to a caravan of friends and family driving past his house as a way to celebrate together while still abiding by social distancing regulations. March 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

“It took me a while to finally figure out what was happening,” Tommy said. “I was just really shocked because I really do not like attention … so I was totally, totally thrown off. I was totally surprised.”

More people came than Lori had expected, including some of Tommy’s old football teammates, as well as current teammates, friends from school and even Tommy’s grandmother and grandfather, who shares a birthday with him.

Tommy Patton celebrates his 16th birthday by waving to a caravan of friends and family driving past his house as a way to celebrate together while still abiding by social distancing regulations. March 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Many had streamers, balloons and posters displayed on their cars for Tommy to see, while some of the Saugus High School cheerleaders even made an appearance, cheering and waving their pom poms out the sunroof of their cars.

“It was really something I’m never going to forget,” Tommy said. “It really made my day so much more special … I’m just so thankful that through the bad times, (like) being quarantined for your birthday, things like this can happen — it was truly remarkable.”

Tommy Patton celebrates his 16th birthday by waving to a caravan of friends and family driving past his house as a way to celebrate together while still abiding by social distancing regulations. March 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Tommy Patton celebrates his 16th birthday by waving to a caravan of friends and family driving past his house as a way to celebrate together while still abiding by social distancing regulations. March 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Tommy Patton celebrates his 16th birthday by waving to a caravan of friends and family driving past his house as a way to celebrate together while still abiding by social distancing regulations. March 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Nancy Smith, a friend of the Patton family. attaches a “Happy Birthday” sign to her car as she prepares for a caravan to celebrate Tommy Patton’s 16th birthday while abiding by social distancing regulations. March 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

Tommy Patton celebrates his 16th birthday by waving to a caravan of friends and family driving past his house as a way to celebrate together while still abiding by social distancing regulations. March 29, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal

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