No one RSVP'd to this kid's birthday. Then some strangers showed up and made his day.

Joel had the coolest eighth birthday party ever.

Joel Restuccia was turning 8, and he wasn't sure how he wanted to celebrate.

He’s a quiet boy, and he told his stepmom, Nicole Restuccia, that all he wanted for his birthday on May 14 was to go hiking.

Nicole had to stay home with their 13-month-old, Clementine, but Joel got his wish and headed out for a long hike with his dad and grandma in New York’s Minnewaska State Park.


Meanwhile, his stepmom was plotting a surprise party.

“I always make birthdays a big deal,” Nicole says. “It’s the one day a year that is exclusively all about celebrating you.”

Joel and his stepmom have been close from day one, and she couldn’t stand the thought of not throwing a party for him. “The first time I ever met him, he came right over and snuggled up with me on the couch,” Nicole recalls. “From then on, he had my heart.”

Michael, Joel, Clementine, and Nicole Restuccia. Photo by Shannon Fisher, used with permission.

Nicole decided to throw a SWAT-themed surprise party for Joel so he could celebrate with his friends.

“All he talks about is SWAT and cops and anything related,” Nicole says. “He actually dressed up as a SWAT team member for halloween."

The party was set for a week later, and Nicole started inviting friends — in stealth mode, of course.

Joel on Halloween 2015. Photo by Nicole Restuccia, used with permission.

But as the party’s date grew closer, she started to worry that very few of the invitees had RSVP'd to the last-minute celebration.

So Nicole took to Facebook, asking parents in a local moms’ group to bring their kids and join in.

Shannon Fisher, who works at the Emergency Services Center, saw Nicole’s post and called for backup to rescue this birthday party in distress.

Shannon walked into the police department the next day and told them about Joel’s party. “It’s a SWAT-themed birthday party, but no one’s coming,” she said. The response was instant: “We are.”

Photo by Shannon Fisher, used with permission.

On the day of the party, 15 officers from the State Police, the NYPD, and the Sheriff's Office showed up for Joel’s party.

Almost 50 people — parents, kids, officers, and even a K-9 — gathered to celebrate Joel’s eighth birthday. The New Windsor community rallied to make sure one little boy knew how loved he is.

Photo by Shannon Fisher, used with permission.

“He was definitely surprised,” Nicole laughs, “and a little overwhelmed ... he didn’t say much at first.”

She says seeing the big crowd knocked the wind out of her, since she initially worried that no one would show up.

Before long, Joel took off to play with the 20 kids who showed up to what ended up being the coolest birthday party ever.

That night, Joel wouldn’t let go of all the patches and cards his surprise visitors had given him. The police squad even brought real SWAT gear for him to try on.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he slept with them under his pillow,” laughs Nicole.

There are few things in life more magical than a child’s birthday party, but seeing a community show up like they did for Joel? You can’t beat that.

You’d better start planning his ninth birthday party now, Nicole, because this one will be hard to beat!

More

Abigail Disney is the granddaughter of the late Roy Disney, the co-founder of the Walt Disney Co. Abigail herself does not have a job within the company, but she has made some public complaints about the way things are being run and how it is effecting the employees of the company.

Disney recently spoke on the Yahoo News show "Through Her Eyes," and shared a story of how a Magic Kingdom employee reached out to her about the poor working conditions at the theme park. So, Disney went to see for herself, and she did not like what she found.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wellington District Police

Some animals have no respect for authority. Rogue penguins are disobeying the police in New Zealand, and they can't stop, won't stop.

Two little blue penguins were spotted at Sushi Bi near the Wellington railway station, allegedly trying to nest. The penguins had to cross through busy lanes of traffic running between the harbor and the sushi bar.

The dangerous duo was detained by the police, then released back into Wellington Harbour.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

Netflix

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
Magnific Eye / Unsplash

Los Angeles is experiencing a homeless epidemic that was years in the making.

Over the past six years, the unhoused population in the city has risen 75 percent. The city's lack of homeless shelters and affordable housing has forced many who can't afford L.A.'s sky-high rents to live on the streets.

According to LAist, since 2000, renter incomes have decreased by 3 percent while rents have gone up 32 percent.

While the city has launched a $100 million-per-year program to help the problem, rapper, entrepreneur, and actor Jaden Smith has found his own way of responding to the crisis: love.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities