Lots of young adults look forward to celebrating their 21st birthday at a bar with their first legal drink, but as Jack Torchia's big day approached, the William Patterson University student had low expectations. He was quarantined at home with his parents and younger sister because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Unbeknownst to Jack, though, his mom Carolyn was hard at work planning a way to make her son's milestone birthday memorable.
In a now viral TikTok video posted by Jack's 18-year-old sister, Emily Torchia, a student at Penn State University, Carolyn and her husband, Anthony Torchia, turn the garage of their northern New Jersey home into a nightclub.
Outside the detached-garage-turned-bar, a sign reads "Must be 21 or older to enter" and dad Anthony serves as a bouncer, asking his son for I.D. and scrutinizing the driver's license with a flashlight. Once inside, where string lights hang overhead and a leg lamp like the one in "A Christmas Story" adorns a table, Carolyn greets her son with a friendly, "Welcome to Club Quarantine!"
When Jack tells his "bartender" that it's his 21st birthday, mom agreeably pours him a shot.
"My mom and I put a lot of thought into how this was going to happen to make it fun and memorable for him," Emily Torchia told TODAY Parents, adding that her mom made the call to hold the event in their garage so Jack would feel like he was really going out for his birthday. "My brother enjoyed every second of it. We told him at dinner that he had to get dressed up because we were going to a club — the confused look on his face was hilarious."
The TikTok video of the celebration now has more than one million views, and Emily, who, like her brother, is completing classes online for the remainder of the semester because of the COVID-19 crisis, says her parents have gotten a kick out of the attention.
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"My parents were probably more excited than my brother and I when going viral," she said. "My mom said she's completely shocked — who would have thought a simple, fun gesture would blow up this big? And, my dad was ecstatic that his leg lamp 'finally got the recognition it deserved.'"