At around this time last year, Oxford was celebrating Oxford Day, an event that is highlighted by the parade that runs through the main street of town. If you were in Oxford Saturday morning, you’d never know that the event was canceled. Approximately 30-40 cars (some with signs), several bicycles, a police car, and firetrucks, with their lights flashing, paraded through the main street of town. They were all there to wish Karen Walbridge a happy 70th birthday, as they passed by her balloon decorated home.
Karen’s daughters, Amy and Kim, planned the surprise celebration when their original idea to hold a party at Tred Avon Yacht Club (TAYC) was postponed due to COVID-19. In an email to Karen’s friends, TAYC, the Fire Company Auxiliary, Oxford Community Center (OCC), and other organizations throughout Oxford, they asked for help: “Not sure if you have seen the car parades people have been putting togethet. It’s basically just a drive-by wishing the person a happy birthday from their cars. I was thinking if possible, we could do this for my mom. It would definitely put a smile on her face. She is alone and unable to be with family right now.”
OCC’s Executive Director, Liza Ledford, said, “Karen is a super volunteer at all the Oxford organizations, so very well-loved and her husband Ryck just passed, so when the daughters reached out for support, support was what they got.”
Karen’s friend, Bonnie Richards said they were able to pull off the surprise by keeping Karen in the house until all the noise in the neighborhood alerted her something was up. As car after car passed her home, Karen smiled and waved. “My heart is still beating fast,” she said. ‘This is the best birthday I’ve ever had!”
Amy and Kim sent an email thanking the community: “ It was truly special, and will be a birthday she will never forget. Hope it brought smiles to everyone during these tough times.”