It’s not a unique situation for a small town or village to have a resident turn 100 years old.
But when a community the size of Kisbey, with a population of 153 according to the 2016 federal census, has three people scheduled to turn 100 in a year, that’s quite remarkable.
And since the families of the three birthday folks can’t have full-blown celebrations like they would like, the village opted for another way to mark the occasion, with parades in front of the homes of the centenarians.
Claudia Mullis, who is a member of the village council, said they held two celebrations already: Albert Hale’s birthday was on May 9, and Clarence Hookenson’s followed on May 30.
“They had antique cars and people dressed up their vehicles, and rode bikes and pushed baby strollers, the whole nine yards, and everybody had signs and stuff, wishing them a happy birthday,” said Mullis.
The Carlyle RCMP and the Kisbey Volunteer Fire Department were also part of the parades.
At each parade there were members of the Kisbey, Arcola and Stoughton branches of the Royal Canadian Legion standing on guard, in their regalia.
During Hale’s parade, family members use baggies and a grabber stick to hand out a card with Hale’s picture in it, thanking everyone for attending the event and celebrating with him.
At Hookenson’s celebration, they handed out doughnuts from Tim Hortons in individual bags with the same precautions.
Mullis pointed out that these parades occurred as a substitute for family gatherings due to the pandemic. Kisbey was one of many communities across the country to have parades as a substitution for traditional birthday parties.
Hale and Hookenson were scheduled to have their centennial celebrations at the Kisbey Recreation Centre.
“Normally the same people that were in the parade would have gone to the celebrations at the hall to personally congratulate them and share a snack or two,” said Mullis.
One more birthday bash is slated for later this year, when Ethel Hall will turn 100.
Mullis noted the three of them were sitting together for Hookenson’s birthday so they could all enjoy his parade.
“People came from a lot of miles to come and wave and say hi,” said Mullis. “It was kind of hard to visit because it was a huge parade.”
Hale and Hookenson were pleased with the birthday activities, and surprised by how many people showed up to congratulate them. Their family members were impressed with the outpouring of support.
“This way they got to share some time together, and for them to see a family member was being honoured was a thrill for them, too,” said Mullis. “To see how many people would come out to support them made their day. I think it was just an all-round, good feeling either way to show them everybody cares about them that much.”
She believes Kisbey is able to have three people reach the milestone because it’s a small community where people care about each other. Hale still lives alone and walks uptown every day to get his mail, so it helps that he remains self-sufficient.
And the village has good water, she said with a laugh.
“The community itself looks out for everybody, and that’s part of the support system that people like. And they always support everything else that’s going on, too, so it’s nice to be able to have something in their honour,” said Mullis.
A decision hasn’t been made on what to do for Hall’s birthday. It would be nice if the restrictions are lifted, but if not, then Mullis hopes an alternate event can occur.