Anyone who has celebrated a birthday in the COVID-19 era probably won’t forget this year’s “big day.” We can’t gather with friends, so birthday boys and girls are blowing out the candles at home. Some parents have come up with creative ways to give their kids a special memory, organizing a drive-by birthday “parade” of the child’s friends waving from their cars, or asking neighbors to leave sidewalk-chalk messages on the driveway.
(One local company will even deliver party activities to your virtual guests and then lead the festivities by Zoom chat—see our video story on the Bay Weekly Newspaper Facebook page.)
As for the adults, some create a fancy birthday dinner at home, dining on carryout from a nice restaurant while sipping wine and wearing dress-up clothes. Other folks won’t settle for an at-home substitute, opting instead to delay their celebration: When this is all over, we’re gonna have a helluva party!
At Bay Weekly, we know how you feel. It’s our 27th birthday this week. At minimum, we thought we’d be enjoying a potluck office party or happy hour in Eastport. Instead, we’re only seeing each other from the tiny boxes of a videoconference call.
Birthdays have always been a big deal at Bay Weekly. The paper launched in 1993, then called New Bay Times, with a goal to explore life along the Chesapeake Bay. The staff began—and remains—small and close-knit. Just how close-knit?
Everyday at lunchtime, the Bay Weekly team spreads a tablecloth on the conference room table. The whole group leaves its computers to assemble for a family lunch. They chat about regular things, not just business. They relate as friends, not just coworkers.
The tradition goes back to the paper’s first office, which was “approximately the size of a shoebox,” our production manager, Betsy Kehne, tells me. Bay Weekly’s longest-running employee fondly remembers “five or six people stuffed in around a lunch table that was really only meant for four. As BW grew, more people fit around that table, contorting into terribly awkward sitting positions for Bay Weekly lunches that were fun and full of good conversation.”
When CBM acquired Bay Weekly last winter, we implored the staff to make the transition with us. They agreed, and their biggest collective request was to have a space for the tablecloth at lunchtime.
One of Bay Weekly’s founders, Alex Knoll, tells us the paper has never missed an issue in all those weeks over 27 years. We’re proud to say that’s still true, several weeks into a pandemic that has shut down almost everything else.
As Betsy points out, “There’s something nice about picking up a newspaper and paging through to see what’s going on in our communities with people you can see and interact with every day.”
Since interacting in the community is pretty limited these days, you can find Bay Weekly on the racks of essential businesses or receive a digital copy at www.bayweekly.com. New this week, you can even access video stories right from the digital paper.
This year, we’ve spent our birthday creating new ways to reach our readers. And when this is all over, rest assured we’re gonna have a helluva birthday party.