Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — What do you do when you want to mark a milestone birthday and you can’t have anyone over for fear of a happening being a gathering?

Well, if you’re lucky — like Ingrid Fritz was today — you’re friends and neighbours do a drive-by to wish you well, all the best — “… and many more!”

That’s how she celebrated her 90th year this morning.

The stream of honking cars, trucks and SUVs — festooned with bright balloons and well-filled with wishers — appeared endless as it paraded around the back streets of Pine Ridge while waking up the normally staid neighbourhood and its vintage inhabitants.

There was almost one masked and socially-distanced celebrant for every year of her birth.

Many were members of the Bifocals Band, including conductors Kim and Neil Barlow.

Each vehicle paused long enough to give a shout out to the birthday girl who smiled and waved back along with a few masked friends who recorded the moment for posterity at the end of her driveway. She was joined by two of her daughters and some grand-children.

Steve and Karen Richards cast a birthday card and lime green balloon out the window with the aid of a fishing pole.

While not a total surprise today, she said in a call later this afternoon that “it was so wonderful.

“Especially to see all the band people.”

Fritz born in East Germany (where it is now part of Czechoslovakia) and came to Canada in 1951. She’s been living at Pine Ridge for 19 years and love it there where she was active in the community hall until the pandemic.

On another rare sunny day, it brought out the best in everyone for the popular elder statesperson of the seniors community.

And she couldn’t have been happier waving and beaming and accepting accelerated accolades.

Carpe diem! That she surely did.

Happy neunzig, Inge.

“What a wonderful surprise,” said Inge Fritz after dozens of friends, neighbours and bandmates did a drive-by today for her 90th birthday.


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