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'He would have loved this': Aiden Curtis’ father appreciative of community decorating city red in honour of son’s birthday

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Red balloons decorate houses on nearly every street in St. Thomas, Ont. on Monday — it’s a way to wish Aiden Curtis a happy 12th birthday.

Curtis was killed in a crash involving an alleged impaired driver on Talbot Street on July 4. The community has rallied, which brings a rare smile to his devastated father.

“He would have been running all around town looking for these,” said Chad Curtis. “He was such an energetic go getter he would have just thought this was so amazing to see these balloons.”

Over the weekend it was difficult to find red balloons in stock anywhere near St. Thomas. Social media has been a way for residents to connect, and help find where they can get balloons to hang on their house or business.

“It makes me feel amazing to know the support,” said Chad. “So many people are here to support us and support Aiden. He lit up everybody and I feel blessed. For such as tragic thing to have happen, all these people have come out and to do everything they're doing is a blessing.”

Across the street from Aiden's house, Dotsy the Clown was busy Sunday filling balloons.

Within 40 minutes of posting online that she’d make a dozen helium balloons for her cost, she received 50 orders. She spent all day filling and bunching them up.

Homes, businesses and streets around St. Thomas, Ont. are decorated with red balloons to honour what would have been Aiden Curtis’ 12th birthday on July 10, 2023. Aiden, who was killed in a crash on July 4, 2023 loved the colour red. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

“That’s why I live in a small town,” said Shelley Summers, also known as 'Dotsy.' “That's why small towns are so much better because when something does happen, it's tragic but everybody rallies."

Cassie Mertick lives around the corner from the Curtis family. She and her children were filling the front of her home with red balloons.

“I just think it's a good way for people to express their condolences without overwhelming the family and being in their faces,” said Mertick. “They've had enough to deal with so I think it's a good way to show the community that we're supporting them without overwhelming them personally. Seeing them [the balloons] all over the town like I know he [Aiden] would love this.”

Homes, businesses and streets around St. Thomas, Ont. are decorated with red balloons to honour what would have been Aiden Curtis’ 12th birthday on July 10, 2023. Aiden, who was killed in a crash on July 4, 2023 loved the colour red. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

Alaina Carter, 13, went to elementary school with Aiden.

“I chatted with a bunch of people and it's been hard because we used to like hang out and say ‘Hi’ in the hall,” she said.

“Aiden’s favourite colour was red, so this is a perfect way to honour him, and show respect,” added Tru Mertick-Chambers, a friend of Aiden’s sister.

Chad Curtis, who has low vision, can see some of the balloons. He’s been hearing from those close to him how many there are around town.

The memorial to Aiden Curtis on Talbot Street in St. Thomas, Ont. has the words 'Happy Birthday' written on the sidewalk, and a heart made from candles. Aiden was killed in a crash on July 4, 2023. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

“Even here, people are coming by and giving me balloons,” said Chad. “They've been putting them on my lawn and they're everywhere. People are walking by with balloons and it’s amazing that they’ve brought this community together.”

As the memorial at the crash site on Talbot Street continues to grow, some St. Thomas residents are planning at vigil there Monday evening. They are asking people to wear red, bring balloons and candles.

A day after what would have been Aiden’s 12th birthday, he will be laid to rest Tuesday. 

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