Most teenagers celebrate their 16th birthday with a gathering of friends and family, but for one teen council member, things were a little different. Haley Wyble, vice chair of Gulfport’s Teen Council, turned 16 on January 25 and was greeted by the police department, the fire department and EMTs in a drive-by extravaganza.
“It was really nice for the city – the fire department, the police department and everybody to come out and honor one of our kids that are doing really well in the community,” Gulfport City Councilmember Paul Ray said.
The teen council is a volunteer organization that assists with projects beneficial the the city. The program serves as a stepping stone for kids to learn leadership qualities and skills, according to Ray.
“A lot of what they do is represent. They get involved in some events. They’ll be working with us, as a matter of fact, on the rain garden that we’re putting in along the shore, on the corner of Shore and 58th downtown, by the Rec Center,” Ray said.
The local officers blasted sirens and honked their horns to alert neighbors and community members of Haley’s celebration. Her parents also decorated the front of her house with Happy 16th birthday signs.
“She was really kind of startled cause she had no idea it was coming,” Ray said.
The drive-by celebration was socially distanced and lasted around 20 minutes. The officials were trailed by local cars of well-wishers who shouted congratulations from their windows.
“It was definitely uplifting for a lot of people,” Ray said.