Calgary

96-year-old gets drive-by birthday surprise from Calgary firefighters

After weeks of self-isolation, a 96-year-old Calgary woman got a birthday surprise from her family, with a little help from the Calgary Fire Department. 

Firefighters have received more than 4,000 requests since program launched

Firefighters have received more than 4,000 requests since program launched 1:20

After weeks of isolation, a 96-year-old Calgary woman got a birthday surprise from her family on Tuesday, with a little help from the Calgary Fire Department. 

Family members lined the street in front of Ruth Ross's home, spaced two metres apart, as grandchildren in birthday hats leaned out of car windows to cheer.

Shortly after, to Ruth's delight, two fire trucks drove by, blasting their horns and a rendition of Happy Birthday over the loudspeaker.

  • Watch Ruth Ross's delight at getting a surprise, drive-by birthday wish from Calgary firefighters, in the video at the top of this story. 

"We have been in isolation now for almost four weeks because of her, so standing out here now with my family and friends is wonderful because we've been so far apart," said Kathy Ross, who helped organize the surprise for her mother-in-law.

The fire department's drive-by birthday program is intended to brighten the mood during the coronavirus pandemic. It's received more than 4,000 requests since being announced last week.

The program is open to children between the ages of four and 12 as well as anyone 75 and older who has a birthday before the end of May. Officials have said it could be extended if physical distancing measures continue to scuttle in-person celebrations.

Ruth Ross, 96, smiles as her loved ones and a group of Calgary firefighters wish her happy birthday, from a distance. (Mike Symington/CBC)

"It's just great," Ruth Ross said.

Born in 1926, Ross joked that she missed the world's last great pandemic — the Spanish Flu — by a few years. 

But, she said, the secret to a long life is going to get her through this pandemic.

"Good friends and family. I think that's what everybody needs in their life," she said.

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