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Lafayette County woman celebrates 100th birthday with car parade

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal for many activities, including how birthdays are celebrated.

With social-distancing guidelines in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, large gatherings of people have become advised against.

The inability to have close interactions did not deter the friends and family of Catherine Alderson, who turned 100 years old on Friday. While a traditional birthday party was out of the question, a party was still brought to Alderson’s home.

With a yard full of decorations, including a bubble machine, Alderson sat in her driveway as dozens of cars honked their horns and passengers waved during a birthday car parade in her honor.

“That’s a milestone to live (to) 100,” Alderson’s daughter, Peggy Leister, said. “It’s just a great thing. … She would tell you it was from a lot of hard work.”

The idea for a car parade came from Alderson’s grandchildren, and then made its way to the Oxford Police Department and fire department. Between them and members of Alderson’s church, cars gathered in the parking lot of Bramlett Elementary and made their way to her home on Avent Street.

A long line of police cruisers, fire trucks and cars filled North 16th Street and showed their love and appreciation as they held up signs. Some of Alderson’s family from as far away as Memphis came down to take part.

“She didn’t know why the Lord had left her here this long,” Leister said. “I told her, maybe it’s because she lived for Him and worked hard and tried to do what He asked her to do in the Bible.”

Alderson has lived in Lafayette County her entire life, moving into her current home approximately 25 years ago. Prior to moving to Oxford, she lived out near the Denmark community.

Ever since shelter-in-place orders across the country have gone into effect, people are still doing their best to help provide some cheer and distractions from current events, especially for children.

Last Tuesday, the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department announced they would help provide birthday car parades for children who are not able to have parties. Deputies will drive by the house with their sirens on and wave.

According to the sheriff’s department, 14 birthday parades had taken place as of Sunday since their April 7 post to their social media accounts.