A 100th birthday is a big deal in any community. But, when a knighted World War Two veteran reaches the century mark, the celebration swings wider, acknowledging historic contributions of the birthday man and perhaps of his generation and comrades in the struggle of that day.
Virden Legion members have made certain, working within health regulation restrictions, Sir Les Downing will be honoured on June 1 as he turns 100.
Sir Downing’s birthday will be celebrated in Virden with a motorcade roll-by, past Downing’s home at 821, Seventh Ave.
One of the event organizers, Comrade Kel Smith, calls it “a low-key affair.”
Smith says, “People are invited to join in, as a family bubble. Decorate your car and stay in it.”
Downing was a gunner in the RCA … a presence from CFB Shilo is expected. The mayor of Virden, and elected government officials have been invited.
Downing has already received birthday cards and certificates of recognition from government, and special birthday cards from Virden Junior High students.
The motorcade is organized to start at Virden Legion at 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1, for the 3 p.m. Roll-By, Drive-By. It’s not the first time that senior celebrity birthdays have been observed in this way in our towns.
Even Mother’s Day has seen motorcades filing past seniors’ residences – decorated, honking and waving.
While cake is traditional, Smith says, “Because of the new COVID restrictions we aren't having a community birthday cake.” But, they are providing a family birthday cake.
Important for Sir Les Downing’s birthday, the weather appears cooperative for this event of a century.