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Carova community members celebrate birthday with surprise drive-by parade

On Friday, July 3, Carova community members came out to celebrate resident Marlene Slate’s 88th birthday with a drive-by parade.

Organized by Slate’s daughter-in-law Stephanie Kamp and friend Edna Baden, the birthday celebration was a complete surprise and brought about twenty vehicles filled with local residents to Slate’s property on Friday evening.

“I almost had a heart attack,” Slate told The Coastland Times after the events unfolded. “It was overwhelming.” Slate has been a part of the community for a long time, serving with Carova Beach Fire and Rescue Station 7 as Firefighter I and II for years.

To show their support and appreciation to Slate, the fire department arranged for fire trucks and ambulances to join in on the festivities. “We had fire trucks there, ambulances were there and even a local tow truck came,” reported Baden.

The fire department, along with other friends and family members, decorated their vehicles to celebrate Slate.

Slate explained that her son almost gave the surprise away. “One of my sons, Steve, came over and sat down . . . he usually comes in the front door, runs through the house and leaves out the back,” Marlene laughed. “I was sitting there knitting and he sat with me to watch TV.”

Slate said she happened to look up and see lights outside the north end of her house, and asked Steve if they should go investigate.

“He said let’s go check,” she explained. “We went out on the front deck and the cars were coming in one after another.”

Slate’s son had placed signs around the yard before coming in to see her and had an umbrella ready for Slate to stay under while her friends and neighbors gathered on the north and south lots of the home and across the street.

“I cried my eyes out,” Slate said. She added, “they were all so glad to see each other too; everyone was so happy.”

The community meet at the Carova Fire Station around 5 p.m. before making the two-mile drive to Slate’s house that day. “Over the years, we’ve given Marlene a party for her birthday… we just thought that this was the best way to do it this time,” said Baden.

Baden explained that the idea stemmed from Kamp, who had recently retired from teaching art at a school in Virginia Beach. Her colleagues had surprised her with a drive-by celebration and Kamp thought the idea would be perfect for Slate.

“She was ecstatic,” Baden said. Slate said she received so many gifts that even three days after the celebration, she was still putting things away.

“I can’t tell you how awesome it was . . . they were all so happy, people who I worked with who hadn’t been down here in a long time came. People came from all over,” Slate said.

Slate shared that the following Sunday, July 5, she went to her local chapel and the congregation sang her favorite song for her birthday: “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

“It’s a phenomenal community,” Baden said. Slate commented that she will never forget the events that took place on Friday. “It’s certainly a memory I’m going to have forever.”

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