Despite the helium shortage and the persistent wind that popped many of them, the family and friends of Mary Rogers still managed to tie balloons to their cars on Saturday, Nov. 7 in order to drive by Pleasantview home and wish Rogers a happy 85th birthday. They also affixed colorful signs, and even a giant face mask, to their cars for the informal parade, which was led by a Kalona Volunteer Fire Department fire truck.
“Young never looked so good on you,” was painted on one car’s windows.
Pleasantview staff brought Rogers outside the retirement home at 10 a.m. so she could be surprised by the drive-by. She wore a special birthday tiara and beamed as she waved and called out to each and every car.
Rogers’s niece, Pat Troyer, helped organize the gathering. For every fifth birthday the family tries to give Rogers a special party, which obviously had to look a little different this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Troyer brought Rogers a cake before the parade, took her photo with it and said she’d be back for a window-visit later — Rogers had no idea that dozens of her loved ones would soon show up, too.
“It’s been March 10th since I was able to give her a hug,” Troyer said. “It’s been very hard, very emotional to be apart from her. But she’s been doing very well inside.”
Friends and family came to Kalona from Danville, Mount Vernon, Ford Madison, Grinnel, and Iowa City in order to wish Rogers a happy birthday.
“It makes me so happy to see everyone here together,” Troyer said. “In a time like this when lots of people feel alone, it’s important to stay in touch and appreciate it.”
Troyers husband, Randy, was a Kalona Volunteer Firefighter for 37 years and so drove the firetruck, complete with lights and sirens, at the start of Rogers’ parade. About ten more cars slowly drove around the circle drive in front of Pleasantview home. Rogers’ loved ones played music, shouted well wishes and handed gift bags and balloons out their car windows.
“The main thing is just that I want her to know she is loved,” Troyer said.