In the wake of tragedy: James’ birthday parade

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CRESSONA, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A fatal crash in Schuylkill County leaves a family without a mom.

Sunday, a community came together to give this difficult Mother’s Day a silver lining. Sirens and celebration filled a neighborhood in Cressona. Young James Whalen turned seven, but it was a difficult day for him and the community.

“As a mother of six kids, I couldn’t even imagine having two young children going through this,” Nichole Mumbauer of Goodwill Hose Company, Cressona Fire Department said.

Abbey Whalen died in a car crash late last week in nearby West Brunswick Township, leaving behind a husband and two children. A first responder parade already in the works for her son’s birthday became a rallying call for the entire region.

“Help them grieve just a little, shed a little light on a bad situation and make them feel like they’re not in it alone. We’re all here together,” Michael Strause, Deer Lake & West Brunswick Township Fire Department Chief, said.

More than 100 civilian and first responder vehicles showing their support in this Schuylkill County community, showing that there is hope in the face of tragedy. Many who had never met Abbey or James coming to the aid of a neighborhood in loss.

“As soon as I saw it, it brought tears to my eyes and it touched my heart because the kid just lost his mom and his birthday falls on Mother’s Day,” David Zweizig of the St. Clair Fire Department said.

Others taking part to reassure the line weaving through the neighborhood: a family for James and the Whalens to lean on in a more than trying time.

“As a community, we always rally together and pull together no matter what happens. Unimaginable things do happen around you,” Mumbauer said.

“We’re always here for him. We’re always here for his family, and we’re always here for anybody that has a tragedy,” Strause said.

Many EMS and fire companies and community members stopped along the parade route to give James presents and prayers on this difficult day.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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