21st birthday celebrations through the pandemic

Giovanna Grand celebrated her 21st birthday in Dec. at MGM casino with her boyfriend, Colin.

Camryn Kocher Reporter

Birthday celebrations are very special for some, especially your 21st birthday. However, many people had to change their special plans because of the pandemic. 

Giovanna Grand, senior fashion merchandising major, was eager to have her special 21st birthday celebration, but was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s in March 2020. Her birthday was in December, but because of her treatment she was immunocompromised and had to be more careful than the average person.

On her birthday, she celebrated with her family at the MGM casino but still wanted to have a big party for her special day. “It was not the same,” she said. “I couldn’t celebrate with all my friends and was limited to just my family and boyfriend.”

Grand said being in remission forced her to be cautious about going out to bars and restaurants but looked forward to having a real celebration. Instead of forgetting about her big plans, her roommate and friends planned a bar crawl event in Downtown Kent. 

“I wanted to celebrate regularly, but it was four months after my birthday and it just didn’t feel the same. But I still had a great time being able to go out,” she said. 

Jenna Gobrecht, junior communication studies major, said she managed to enjoy her 21st birthday and liked the idea of being able to go out with her friends. She celebrated her special day on March 24 and said it was just another day.

Gobrecht thought the pandemic wasn’t going to have a big impact because it has been around for a year already. “My expectations were low already because of the pandemic,” she said. “The way I celebrated my 21st was not how everyone else did.”

Gobrecht spent her birthday at work and planned to get a pizza for herself. She also spun the birthday wheel at Ray’s Place bar, located in Downtown Kent. The drink wheel allows you one spin on your birthday and whatever drink it lands on, you get for free.

Gobrecht was glad she celebrated her birthday during COVID-19. “It’s an excuse to not have a celebration,” she said. Gobrecht is from Pittsburgh and is really excited to explore the city of Cleveland now that she is of legal drinking age.

Sarah Crabtree, junior communication studies major, turned 21 on April 17. “It feels so weird to be able to go out to bars and be able to order drinks,” she said. 

She believes having the vaccine changes people’s mindset. She wanted to be vaccinated before she went out in public and not have to worry about getting the virus or spreading it.

Crabtree and her friends decided they were going to have a casual night by getting drinks and eating food.

Kristin Birchak celebrated her birthday Feb. 16 and knew she wasn’t going to have a celebration like she usually would.

Birchak was afraid to go home and risk getting her family sick, so instead of going out for her birthday she celebrated at her apartment with her twin sister Rachel. 

She and her sister celebrated together by watching movies and having a glass of wine. “I was lucky to have someone to spend it with,” she said. During the pandemic, we lose human interaction in social settings and forget the little things to celebrate in life.

“Personally, I’ve been wrapped up in this pandemic for so long it’s become normalized to be out with masks,” Crabtree said. “Our mindset has changed and going out on your 21st is supposed to be a special event, but everyone should be safe.”

Camryn Kocher is a student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected].