It's party time: Cecilia Wikjord turns 102 with COVID-safe celebration

Article content continuedOne of the firefighters started dancing on the sidewalk below her, and then he went b

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One of the firefighters started dancing on the sidewalk below her, and then he went back to the truck, pulled out a replica fire helmet and placed it outside her door.

“Happy birthday,” the firefighter told Wikjord through a crack in the window, then he and the other crew members hopped back into their cab and sped off, horn and siren blaring as they went.

“I guess I made it,” Wikjord said of reaching the age of 102. “I feel as good as when I was born,” she reflected in a telephone interview. “I feel so good. I dance, I can jig, I can do steps. How could I be (102)?”

BURNABY, September 20, 2020 -- With COVID-19 putting a damper on most celebrations for residents in Long Term Care, Cecilia Wikjord watches as Burnaby Fire Fighters wish her a happy 102nd birthday with a drive-by Birthday Salutation in Burnaby, BC., on September 20, 2020. (NICK PROCAYLO/PNG) 00062495A ORG XMIT: 00062495A [PNG Merlin Archive]
Cecilia Wikjord waves as Burnaby firefighters stop to wish her a happy 102nd birthday. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

Wikjord has lived in the home for the last half-decade. She was a fairly recent arrival to Burnaby and grew up in Saskatchewan. She gave some insight into her longevity. “I was always out, busy, helping. … We had lots of fun though.”

Hazel Baquiran, a recreation coordinator for the home, said they planned to later give Wikjord a vanilla cake. In non-pandemic times, residents regularly get together for larger celebratory gatherings, but during the lockdown, the care home has kept events quite small.

Residents in care homes have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 in B.C. and Canada. There are now about a half dozen long-term care facilities in the Fraser and Coastal Health regions experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. As of last month, roughly three-quarters of B.C.’s COVID-19-related deaths have been linked to long-term care facilities.
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