Last Wednesday, Helen Mestayer celebrated her 97th birthday with an unexpected surprise. 

Family and friends lined up their cars in the Froogle’s parking lot and paraded past Dunbar Village Nursing Home, honking and waving balloons.  Bay St. Louis firefighter John Farve also arranged another surprise, a fire truck escort to end the parade. 

“We’ve done a couple of parades,” Farve said. “But this one may be the most special. It’s not too often we can come together and celebrate someone turning 97.”

Helen is a former teacher from “all over Mississippi,” including the University of Mississippi, she said. 

“I thought the birthday parade was unique and fun,” she said. 

When asked what the secret to her longevity was, Helen replied, “Eating turnip greens. You can’t beat ‘em.” Helen claims she is determined to be at least 100. 

“I have to beat my cousin,” she joked. “She was 106.”

Dunbar Village is not accepting visitors due to COVID-19 precautions, but Helen’s family and friends were still able to wave and sing “Happy Birthday” from their cars. One group brought her some Popeye’s fried chicken, her favorite food, to have for lunch.

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