GENEVA — Bonnie Balaban and her five siblings kept 95-year-old Leroy Spade in the dark about his birthday party that occurred on Sunday afternoon when more than a dozen cars and a fire engine drove by his house.
Spade officially turns 95 on June 2, but to get the family together, the celebration had to be Sunday, Balaban said.
“It’s great. Oh it’s wonderful. Oh my gosh what a surprise,” he said after the cars had rolled by and the horns stopped beeping.
Balaban said her five siblings include Barry Spade of Illinois, Leroy Spade Jr. of Geneva; Sharon Selman of Geneva, Becky Inman of Perry and John Spade of Geneva. She said everyone was able to come except Barry Spade.
“We couldn’t have a birthday party because of COVID-19 so we just decided to have a drive-by,” Selman said while putting balloons in the lawn before the procession began.
Spade is a World War II veteran having served in the Pacific and stationed in Hawaii for some of the war.
“I was in the motor pool,” he said.
After the war ended, Spade spent some time guarding German prisoners of war at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis.
As family members put up balloons and signs, Spade was still inside thinking the only celebration was going to be a piece of birthday cake.
“We kept him in the house. He had no clue,” Balaban said.
The staging area for the surprise party was a block away and when the go command came the fire truck turned the corner onto Third Street and the honking of horns began.
Happy birthday signs were waved towards Spade as relatives and friends drove by the 95-year-old seated on a chair in front of his home.
Some vehicles in the caravan decided to loop the block twice so they could say hello again.
Spade didn’t seem to mind as he waved to each participant as they came by his house.