The Charger Blog

Charger Family Throws ‘Social Distancing’ Birthday Party

Inspired by their family members in Italy, Jessica Esposito ’19, ’20 M.S. and her parents were determined not to let the coronavirus pandemic stop them from celebrating her birthday. They found a creative way to celebrate and connect with their neighbors while doing their part to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

March 26, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Julia's Pizza Party
Jessica Esposito ’19, ’20 M.S. and her parents celebrated her birthday with a “social distancing” pizza party.

Jessica Esposito ’19, ’20 M.S. won’t soon forget her 24th birthday.

As restaurants and other establishments closed and people across the country and the world were encouraged to distance themselves from others amidst the global coronavirus pandemic, Esposito’s family found a unique way to celebrate, while doing their part to keep everyone safe. They threw a “social distancing” pizza party in their driveway, inviting a few of their friends and neighbors to stop by to celebrate – without getting too close.

“We can still interact, but at a distance,” she explains. “We have to be cautious and avoid being in groups, but we can still interact.”

Jessica’s father, Frank Esposito Jr. ’84, fired up his mini wood-fired pizza oven in the family’s driveway. He had everything he needed to make a tasty pie – bags of dough, sauce, cheese – laid out on a table. Yellow caution tape made sure visitors kept their distance, but they could still visit with the family and wish Jessica a happy birthday.

As part of a recent Executive Order, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced a ban on social gatherings of more than five people to prevent further community spread of COVID-19.

Julia Esposito and her father.
Jessica Esposito ’19, ’20 M.S. and Frank Esposito Jr. ’84.

“We were inspired by our relatives singing from their balconies in Italy,” said Frank, who recently retired after working at the University for 16 years. “We’re feeding the neighborhood free pizza curbside, and all they have to do is sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jessica.”

Social distancing is not a new concept for Jessica and her family. In late 2017, she was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that does not have a cure. She, like many who suffer from autoimmune disorders, has been practicing social distancing to keep herself safe and healthy.

“Social distancing has been a bit of a culture shock for many people,” she said. “It isn’t easy, but you do get used to it, and it is something we can learn from. This is a great way to practice it. You have to find a way to make it a positive situation.”

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