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Birthday gal gets surprise “float-by” from U.S. family

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Troy Shantz

The pandemic has given birth to the birthday drive-by, but Patricia Greenwood’s family and friends from Michigan did her one better on July 9.

Piling into a friend’s boat, they arrived from Port Huron on the St. Clair River and delivered a “float-by” for the Sarnia woman’s 80th birthday.

“That’s pretty special. How could it be any better?” asked an emotional Greenwood as she stood at the Point Edward Starlight Casino with husband Henry, daughter Jacquie Milligan, and granddaughter Sarah Milligan.

“I love all of you. This is so special,” she said through tears.

Expecting her Michigan crew to be holding signs and waving from the Port Huron shoreline, Greenwood was scanning with binoculars around 9 a.m. when a boat pulled up, its occupants honking horns and singing “Happy Birthday” over a loudspeaker.

“Don’t touch the dock or you’ll be quarantined for 14 days,” joked husband Henry.

The couple has been married 29 years. Patricia, a Michigan native, was working at Mercy Hospital in Port Huron and Henry convinced her to retire and move to Sarnia.

Before COVID-19 arrived, she made frequent trips to see her daughter, son, grandchildren and siblings, taking along cases of Labatt Blue and Canadian butter for good measure.

But she hadn’t seen her family since the Canada-U.S. border closed four months ago.

“I couldn’t believe that they came up in a boat,” she said later. “I have beautiful families on both sides (of the border).”

Patricia Greenwood becomes emotional as friends and family from Michigan delivery a birthday “float by” on the St. Clair River last week.
Troy Shantz

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