Parade at the castle: First responders brighten kids’ days

With few visitors allowed, patients get to wave through their windows

A young patient at Sanford Children's Hospital while a police officer shows her a sign through her window.
A young patient at Sanford Children's Hospital while a police officer shows her a sign through her window.

Sgt. Andrew Siebenborn with Sioux Falls Police knows what it’s like to be in the hospital.

“Having been in the hospital for some time this year myself, I know how much that isn’t a fun situation,” he said.

But being a child in a hospital, in the middle of a pandemic, with very few visitors allowed? Siebenborn says he couldn’t imagine how difficult that must be, and wanted to help out in any way he could.

“I just had this idea to see if there’s something we could do as law enforcement to try to bring the kids some joy,” he said.

Organizing the parade

Siebenborn put together a 45-vehicle parade that would surround the Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“I had the idea, but nothing goes off without the wonderful partners that we were able to do this with,” he said. “Thank you to the South Dakota Highway Patrol, the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, the Sioux Falls Animal Control, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, the Sioux Falls Police Department, and the partners at Sanford as well, who allowed us to get that idea going and pretty much do it on the fly.”

The next night, first responders in Fargo, North Dakota, staged a similar parade with lights and sirens around Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo. The Fargo Police Department, Fargo Fire Department and F-M Ambulance showed their support through wind and several inches of snow.

Children peered out their window to see firetrucks, squad cars, ambulances, friendly waves and encouraging signs.

“We’re really lucky in Sioux Falls to have so many partner agencies that are willing to help out, at the drop of a hat,” Siebenborn said. “It was a good problem to have because I almost had too many vehicles to try to decipher, but we had great teamwork. It wouldn’t have happened without those partner agencies. I was just a small part.”

Learn more: Visitor policy promotes a safer environment at Sanford

Siebenborn, a die-hard Nebraska Cornhusker fan, says he got the idea from the Iowa Hawkeyes.

“One of the coolest traditions in college football is the Iowa wave. That factored into doing this, where they, between quarters, wave at the kids in their children’s hospital. That’s kind of what I wanted to emulate with, as we did it here and surrounded the streets, obviously realizing we can’t go into the hospital at this time.

“So good job, Hawkeyes. Hopefully the virus gets over before the football season, so we can finally get a win against ya.”

Sergeant’s message to you

Siebeborn says in a time where uncertainty surrounds everyone, he’d hope one thing remains constant: neighbors helping neighbors.

“Reach out to others, and take care of yourself,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to others and see what help they need. Maybe they need help with a lunch, or maybe it’s someone who’s quarantined, or needs to stay inside because of a compromised immune system, and there’s some things that need to be done. Don’t be afraid to make that contact with them.

“Maintain your social distance until this gets through, but really love on each other and reach out to each other and make sure we’re taking care of each other. That’s what makes Sioux Falls a great town.”

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Posted In Children's, Community, Coronavirus