Luke and Will turned 6 years old this past Monday! On Saturday afternoon, we had a party at the house. Several months ago, Luke came home talking about playing "police" with several friends at recess. I'm always looking for a good party theme, and this seemed like a winner.
The other idea was to do a party at our local fire department - they have picnic shelters that you can use, and as long as there are no fire calls, you're able to tour the building and try out the cab of the ladder truck. If there is a call, however, the sirens wail and thing turn chaotic as the firemen prepare to leave for the scene... and I didn't think that Will would do well in that potential situation.
So I decided to reach out to our local police department, knowing full well that we wouldn't be able to have the party at the police department, but wondering if they could send an officer over to our house for 15 minutes to show the party attendees their patrol car and talk a little bit about being a police officer. I know that a lot of people probably wouldn't have randomly reached out to their local police department, but I didn't think I had anything to lose. All they could say would be no, and then I'd be back to planning a police party at the house with no special guest.
The community outreach contact I spoke to was very nice. I explained our situation with the party and the noise issue, and more about Luke and Will's health background. She indicated that they typically do their outreach in more community-facing situations, but was willing to bring my request up with the Chief. To my surprise, she called back quickly and said they would probably be able to help. As it turns out, the department does a lot of fundraising and volunteering with the Special Olympics, so this was right up their alley.
I shared my excitement and bewilderment at their agreement with Nate and my dad, but managed to keep it a secret from everyone else - most importantly from Luke and Will! About a week before the party, the community outreach contact indicated that there would actually be two officers coming, and perhaps the K-9. Bonus!
To fill the time between when guests arrived and the officers showed up, we had our 14 little boy guests enter the "Police Academy" where they were greeted with a police hat, a shiny new badge and made themselves a nametag.
The new Academy initiates then made their way up the ramp into the house, and stepped immediately into the Booking department. With the help of our government trained fingerprinting technicians, everyone got their full fingerprints done.
After that, the Academy initiates were free to nosh in the mess hall, work out in the gym, or take a turn in the jail.
Nate and I watched the clock nervously. We saw one police cruiser drive by - checking out the house to make sure that the party was still on. They called and said that they were on their way. Go time.
We were wearing orange prison jumpsuits. Nate went out front to meet the police officers. I ran back to the gym and made a scene - my fellow inmate had escaped and I needed everyone's help to bring him back to the jail!
The kids ran in a big group around the house looking for Nate. Luke spotted Nate through the front window, and he and Will led their group of friends back through the garage to the outside. I ran out the front door and managed to catch this shot - pure bewilderment!
The scene they were witnessing, however, wasn't a single police cruiser. It wasn't 2 officers and maybe a K-9. There were 5 police cruisers, 6 officers and a K-9 to meet. Flashing lights on, officers walking up the driveway in a line. What. A. Scene.
There were 30 adults at the party - only a few of whom knew what we had up our sleeves. So they all walked out of the house with looks of disbelief and shock on their faces too. It was awesome! I couldn't stop grinning.
The officers immediately started talking to the kids, showing them the inside of the cruisers (the biggest hit amongst kids and dads was the brand new Dodge Charger), how to turn on the lights. It didn't matter if the kid was in a wheelchair or a walker or talking and walking on their own - the officers made sure that everyone had an opportunity to check things out.
As long as everyone was calm and went over one at a time, we were also able to meet the K-9, Kyra. She was a beautiful shepherd, and took commands in several languages including German and Czech!
And she even came out to pose for a picture with the whole group.
I have no idea how long they were there. Time flew by. Magic. Smiles. It certainly was longer than the 15 minutes I had requested, the 15 minutes they could have easily turned down - but easily turned into the most amazing gift we could have imagined!
We waved goodbye to the officers as they drove up the street with the lights and sirens blazing. I wonder what kind of trouble our neighbors thought we were in!
It was certainly hard to top the visit by the officers, but of course there was cake...
And of course there were buds...
And of course there were twin brothers, to share your most awesome 6th birthday with...
I think next year, we'll pop popcorn and watch a movie for Will and Luke's 7th birthday. This one might be impossible to top.