By Rick Palsgrove
It was a beautiful thing to see.
More than 40 cars – festooned with colorful balloons as well as banners and filled with well wishers honking their horns – slowly cruised down Groveport’s Elm Street past Lily Franks’ house to celebrate Lily’s 100th birthday on Jan. 11.
Lily’s daughter, Kathy Franks Trogolo, said the idea for drive-by birthday parade arose as a safe way to celebrate Lily’s special day safely in this era of the COVID pandemic.
“We originally planned to have a party, but with the COVID omicron variant currently being so contagious, we decided against it,” said Kathy. “This seemed to be a wonderful alternative and safe for her.”
Kathy also passed around birthday cards for the well wishers to sign that she later gave to Lily.
After the drive-by parade, Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp and Groveport Police Chief Casey Adams presented Lily, who has lived in Groveport for 58 years, with a cake and flowers.
“This was a great way to celebrate a long time resident of Groveport, especially someone we’ve known since we were kids,” said Westcamp. “What a great lady and what a great family.”
Westcamp said this is the third time in the last three years the city has celebrated a citizen’s 100th birthday with cake and flowers.
“We love it,” said Westcamp.
When Westcamp presented the cake and flowers to Lily he told her, “This community loves you,” to which Lily replied, “Everyone takes good care of me.”
Standing at her front window, Lily, brimming with energy, waved and smiled to the drivers as they rolled by her house. After the drive-by parade, a group of well wishers stood outside Lily’s house and sang, “Happy Birthday,” to her as Lily smiled and waved.
Kathy said her parents came to Groveport 58 years ago because they were looking for a friendly small town to live in. She said Lily was active in the community doing things such as serving as a room mother at the elementary school as well as running the popular luau’s that were once held at the original Groveport swimming pool.
“She also taught cooking classes back when the high school used to offer ‘mini-courses,’” said Kathy.
Groveport City Councilman Scott Lockett said many of the participants in the drive-by parade for Lily are graduates of the Groveport Madison High School class of 1973, as well as other graduates from that era.
“We’re a tight knit group,” said Lockett.
On Facebook, Joyce Poling wrote of the event, “On behalf of the Franks’ family, thank you to all who participated in the parade for Lily’s 100th birthday. It was quite a success and made Lily very happy. She loved it! Thank you also for the many cards she received. A special shout out to Mayor Lance Westcamp, Councilman Scott Lockett, and Police Chief Casey Adams for their efforts in making the parade successful.”