More than 40 vehicles parade for Mindemoya matriarch’s 95th

Birthday girl Repha Van Horn waves as a parade of gaily decorated honking cars and trucks passes her Mindemoya home in celebration of her 95th birthday. photos by Michael Erskine

MINDEMOYA – Isolation can be a fierce challenge for anyone, especially the elderly, and never more so than on those social occasions where families traditionally gather to celebrate significant milestones in one’s life, but for Repha Van Horn the advent of her 95th birthday proved an occasion for her family, friends and community to show their love and affection—while remaining respectful of COVID-19 protocols.

Ms. Van Horn admitted to being “a little bit tired” following the February 21 parade, but there was no mistaking how she felt. “My land,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe what Karlene (Scott) had done.”

As the more than 40 vehicles, each festooned with balloons celebrating Ms. Van Horn’s special day, gathered in the parking lot of the Mindemoya Missionary Church, organizer and former neighbour Karlene Scott put her considerable organizational skills into play—all while dressed in bright green clown’s regalia—directing traffic and co-ordinating the singing and collecting a large box filled with birthday cards.

“It was so wonderful, wasn’t it? She was so happy,” enthused Ms. Scott, while pointing out that it was the community who gathered in Ms. Van Horn’s honour who truly made the day a success. Ms. Scott was Ms. Van Horn’s neighbour for more than 30 years, before recently moving to another house.

After the rousing round of song was complete, individually wrapped pieces of cake, three different flavours to suit all tastes, greeted the parade goers. 

While only some of those assembled were nieces, nephews and the “grand” version of same, all tended to refer to Ms. Van Horn affectionately as “Auntie Repha.”

Part of the physically distant and/or masked crowd who gathered to celebrate “Auntie” Repha Van Horn’s 95th birthday. Many of the celebrants are members of the Mindemoya Missionary Church which Ms. Van Horn attends. Central Manitoulin Councillor Dale Scott presented a certificate from the municipality commemorating the occasion. Three kinds of cake stand individually wrapped and ready.

“Yes, I guess a lot of them call me that,” laughed Ms. Van Horn. “But most of the people were from the church, I think.”

Ms. Van Horn is a faithful member of the Mindemoya Missionary Church congregation and most have adopted her in her honourary role.

As for her take on how to get to the birthday she was celebrating, Ms. Van Horn replied “trust in the Lord. Take things day by day and do a lot of work in the community.” It’s good to stay active.

“I want to thank (son) Perry and his wife Linda for bringing over my birthday supper,” said Ms. Van Horn. “Thank you to all of the people who made it such a wonderful birthday.”

Happy birthday from The Expositor, you haveinspired the best of your community.