You could call it a drive-by party.
Friends gathered in the parking lot of the Chances Casino in Courtenay Friday afternoon, with at least 50 vehicles in the motorcade, some adorned in balloons, signs or flags wishing Jim Cooper a happy 99th birthday. Then they made their way toward his house where he was sitting well back in his driveway, waving back to those that drove by.
“Happy birthday, young fella,” one of them said while passing by.
As one of only a couple of Second World War veterans left in the community, Cooper was celebrating the milestone birthday in a way that still took current physical distancing guidelines into account. He thought it was going to be a quiet day, especially in light of distancing measures, so he was not expecting the long line of admirers driving past the house on Sitka Street.
“That was awesome,” he said. “I couldn’t have wished for a better 99th birthday.”
All he was told by daughter Sharon Johnston, a member of the ladies’ auxiliary for the Comox Legion Branch 160, was that he might want to be outside as there might be something happening.
Johnston credits past president of the Comox Legion John Paulin and his wife for coming up with the idea and putting out the word on social media to get friends to come send birthday greetings to her dad from a safe distance.
For several minutes, the line of vehicles drove up and down the block, while other people in the Courtenay neighbourhood were out on their lines to applaud and cheer. One neighbour even made a cut-out “99” sign to wave at passersby.
It was short and sweet, and Cooper said he was looking forward to a birthday dinner that evening cooked by his daughter, starting with the shrimp cocktail, his choice for a first course.
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