109-Year-Old Woman Living Through Second Pandemic Celebrates Birthday With Socially Distant Parade

KUTTAWA, Ky. (CBS Local) — A Kentucky woman who has lived through two world wars and now two global pandemics celebrated her 109th birthday Wednesday with a surprise parade.

Ruth Harrington was all smiles under her protective face mask, waving from a socially safe distance at every one of the nearly 40 vehicles as they drove by River’s Bend Retirement Center in Kuttawa.

“We’re honored to celebrate Ruth, who is our oldest resident at River’s Bend,” Administrator Stacey Bullock told The Lane Report. “She has been looking forward to this all week, so we’re thrilled to celebrate her birthday while ensuring she continues to have a long and happy life.”

The caravan included fire trucks decorated with pink balloons, mayors of three nearby towns, loved ones and five generations of her descendants with noisemakers and signs.

“It must be really special for her,” caravan rider Hannah Lee told WPSD. “I mean look, she’s still alive, and she’s with her family, which is wonderful.”

Harrington is the owner of the Calvert City Drive-In movie theater in Calvert City. She and her husband moved to Kentucky in the 1950s and opened the drive-in in 1953.

Just five years ago, Harrington was still signing employees’ checks. Ruth’s grandson, John Harrington, said she was still handing out tickets in her late 90s.

“Favorite memories would be being at the drive-in seeing the business operate with her, and Christmastime at granny’s house,” he told WPSD.

Ruth’s family includes eight grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, 11 great-great-grandchildren and three great-great-great-grandchildren, most of whom live in Western Kentucky and participated in the parade.