Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By George Horvath
Staff Writer 

The 90th birthday girl gets a drive-by party


May 7, 2020

George Horvath

The 90th birthday girl Shirley Runge (right) waves to well-wishers in a "drive-by" celebration, necessitated by COVID-19, Monday, April 27.

WORLAND – An evening traffic jam on Howell Avenue in Worland last Friday, April 24, was the unexpected public indicator that Mrs. Shirley Runge had reached 90 years of age.

The lifelong Worland resident, born Shirley Hampton in 1930, was surprised by the outpouring of good wishes and congratulations from friends and loved ones in a "drive by" birthday celebration.

Because of the "social distancing" situation with the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), Samantha Strickler and some others among Shirley's friends organized a party in which happy birthday wishes could be conveyed from passing vehicles. Shirley stood in her front yard. For an hour or longer, a great many folks drove by Shirley's Howell Avenue home, stopping their cars or slowing them to a crawl. They honked their horns, waved and called out their birthday benedictions. Shirley waved and greeted them in return.

At the party's peak, as many as six cars at once promenaded slowly past Shirley's home.

"I didn't realize they were lined up like that," Shirley said. She said she thought it was great.

Shirley said she had always lived in town, not in the countryside. She remarked about Worland's growth and the changes she has seen over the decades. "I used to ride horses a lot," she said. "Washakie Avenue was out of town."

Shirley said she enjoyed the surprise celebration. "I guess I don't turn 90 very often!"


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