By Rick Palsgrove
It was a beautiful thing to see.
More than 40 cars – decked out with colorful balloons and banners and filled with honking well-wishers – drove slowly down Groveport’s Elm Street past Lily Frank’s house to celebrate Lily’s 100th birthday on January 11th.
Lily’s daughter, Kathy Franks Trogolo, said the idea for a drive-by birthday parade arose as a safe way to safely celebrate Lily’s special day during this time of the COVID pandemic.
“We originally planned to have a party, but because the COVID-Omicron variant is so contagious right now, we decided against it,” Kathy said. “This seemed like a wonderful alternative and safe for her.”
Kathy also passed around birthday cards for the well-wishers to sign, which she later gave to Lily.
After the drive-by parade, Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp and Groveport Police Commissioner Casey Adams presented a cake and flowers to Lily, who has lived in Groveport for 58 years.
“This was a great way to celebrate a longtime resident of Groveport, especially someone we’ve known since childhood,” Westcamp said. “What a great wife and what a great family.”
Westcamp said this is the third time in the past three years that the city has celebrated a citizen’s 100th birthday with cake and flowers.
“We love it,” Westcamp said.
When Westcamp presented Lily with the cake and flowers, he said to her, “This community loves you,” to which Lily replied, “Everyone takes good care of me.”
Standing at her front window, Lily waved and smiled energetically at drivers as they drove past her home. After the drive-by parade, a group of well-wishers stood outside Lily’s house and sang “Happy Birthday” to her while Lily smiled and waved.
Kathy said her parents came to Groveport 58 years ago because they were looking for a friendly small town to live in. She said Lily is active in the community, doing things like serving as a roommate at the elementary school and leading the folk luau’s that were once held at the original Groveport swimming pool.
“She also taught cooking classes when high school still offered ‘mini-classes,'” Kathy said.
Groveport City Councilman Scott Lockett said that many of the participants in the drive-by parade for Lily were graduates of the Groveport Madison High School class of 1973, as well as other graduates from that era.
“We’re a close-knit group,” Lockett said.
On Facebook, Joyce Poling wrote of the event: “On behalf of the Franks family, thank you to everyone who attended the Lily’s 100th Birthday Parade. It was quite a success and made Lily very happy. she loved it! Thank you also for the many cards she received. A special shout out to Mayor Lance Westcamp, Councilor Scott Lockett and Police Commissioner Casey Adams for their efforts to make the parade a success.”