NEW ASHFORD, Mass. — There were balloons, there was family, there were noisemakers — actually, fire trucks — and there were jokes, courtesy of the guest of honor.
It was as good a birthday party as one could hope for in the age of social distancing.
Cecile Love celebrated her 105th birthday on Tuesday, and the town turned out to celebrate with her, even if most of the residents had to settle for delivering drive-by greetings at noon at her home on Route 7.
Asked how she explains her longevity, Love poked a little fun at herself.
"You've just got to stay on your feet and don't sit around," Love said. "I think that's the main thing.
"And here I am sitting like a lazy thing."
Love does not sit around much.
The nearly lifelong New Ashford resident lives next door to the house where she was born. And she has a large extended family — including 20 great-great-grandchildren — to keep track of.
Her daughter Priscilla Haig was among those in attendance on Tuesday. She said the town's Select Board set up the drive-by party when it learned that the milestone birthday was just around the corner.
"We've had parties since she was 90," Haig said. "I think 90, 95th, 100th and this one. This is the best we can do … with the way things are going.
"For 105, we think she's doing great. She still lives alone and takes care of herself very nicely. We all try to pitch in and help with things. But this is the way she wants it. Not the way we want it, but this makes her happy to be in her house."
As if the global COVID-19 pandemic was not enough of an impediment to a proper birthday gathering, the ongoing resurfacing project on Route 7 happened to hit the stretch right in front of Love's house on Tuesday morning.
But the work crew took a break long enough to let the parade of well-wishers, led by the New Ashford Fire Department, make two passes as Love watched and waved from the comfort of her lawn chair.
Next time, Love will want to share some cake with the party-goers.
And there will be a next time.
"For her hundredth, we had a big open house party at our church, and everybody came," Haig said. "I don't know what we'll do for her 110th.
"She had a cousin who lived to be 108, so we'll be doing this next year. From now on, we'll do it yearly."
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