ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca’s youngest policeman Officer Colin Hayward Toland is turning 10 years old this month and all his supporters and friends are welcome to attend the massive birthday bash in Stewart Park.
But it’s no ordinary party.
There’s going to be an Easter egg hunt, Christmas tree, Valentine’s Day decor, Halloween ghouls, and two Thanksgiving turkeys in honor of all of Colin’s favorite holidays.
“He wanted to have an Easter egg hunt (for his birthday),” Colin’s mom Tamiko Toland said. “So we came up with the idea of celebrating all his favorite holidays.”
She was able to snag 300 Easter eggs on clearance at Target for the hunt and is asking friends and family to be in charge of holiday stations where kids will be able to do crafts or just enjoy the decor (a beer keg will be available for the grow-ups).
“I do want to encourage people…to dress up or bring something,” Tamiko Toland said. “We want people to celebrate their favorite holidays, too.”
Colin was sworn in as an IPD officer last September in front of his classmates and more than 100 regional police officers and first responders at the large pavilion in Stewart Park. He’s been battling brain cancer and tumors on-and-off since he was about 2-years-old. After chemotherapy and several surgeries, he went into remission. But the cancer returned in January 2015.
Over the past few months, Colin has been on patrol throughout the city greeting people at the Commons, supporting police officers at local events, and making public safety videos on behalf of IPD.
True to Colin’s generous spirit, he invited everyone he met to his birthday party last year — even cashiers at stores. Toland said about 200 people came to Colin’s Hello Kitty-themed party at their home, and the family is expecting even more people to attend the birthday party this year.
When Toland began planning for it, she realized she’d have to likely rent a tent in case of bad weather and a Porta Potty to accommodate more guests. That’s when her husband Ian Hayward suggested they host the event at Stewart Park instead.
“Our community is bigger, and we want to keep the same feeling of inviting everybody,” she said.
As of Monday, Toland said she’s still working on the best way to organize people to help with donations or volunteering. The best way to keep up with the event is through the event page on Facebook where she will posting updates.
The party is happening from noon – 5 p.m. on June 18, a few days after Colin’s June 12 birthday. To keep up with party details, visit the event page here. You can also follow Officer Colin’s adventures on his Facebook page here.