Residents at the Summergate Village in Sidney braved the Saturday afternoon rain to help their neighbour mark a special birthday.
Barbara Chorlton, also known as Babs, turned 103 on June 6 and was treated to a surprise parade thanks to her neighbours.
Just before 4 p.m., a group gathered outside the retirement community’s clubhouse while practicing social distancing. Many carried balloons, signs, birthday cards, drums and bagpipes.
Hal Cairns, Chorlton’s neighbour of three years, organized the surprise party and her family helped keep the celebration a secret throughout the day.
“She’s delightful” and deserved to be celebrated, Cairns said.
After the musicians had taken a few minutes to find their groove, they led the crowd through the community, down Chorlton’s street and towards her balloon-covered home.
She was shocked when the parade of neighbours arrived outside her home and said it was her “best birthday so far.”
The group sang Happy Birthday and dropped their cards into a basket which was later delivered to Chorlton.
While her neighbours sang and cheered, Chorlton – dressed all in purple – sat under an umbrella in her driveway surrounded by decorations and family. Her sons – Earle, Neil and Colin Robertson – had made the trip into Sidney with several of her grandchildren so help celebrate her special day.
The centenarian still lives on her own and, before the pandemic, enjoyed a busy schedule of bingo games, dinners and playing cards – her favourite game is cribbage. Cairns noted that he “would never gamble with her” because she’s a card game expert.
Colin, who lives in Victoria, is happy to know that his mom’s neighbours care for her and noted that there’s always someone to check in on her or drop off a nice meal.
Chorlton said she isn’t sure what the secret to a long, healthy life is, but noted that it could be the porridge she has for breakfast every morning.