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Port Moody birthday parade marks 106 years for Mary Anne Cooper

About 40 cars drove through the Ioco townsite on Friday, Oct. 30, to bring birthday greetings to a long-time Port Moody resident and an advocate for the preservation of the Ioco townsite

COVID-19 didn't stop dozens of Tri-City residents from celebrating a milestone birthday for one of Port Moody's most treasured citizens.

Mary Anne Cooper celebrated her 106th birthday on Friday, Oct. 30, with a parade of cars driven by friends who brought her well-wishes, cards, flowers and gifts as they passed by.

Fire trucks led the way, followed by dozens of passenger cars, antique cars and Port Moody police cars. One PMPD vehicle was emblazoned with a poster featuring a photo of Mary Anne Cooper and birthday greetings.

“I appreciate you,” Cooper said to those who wound through the streets of the Ioco townsite to a tent where she sat next to a giant bouquet of red roses.

Dressed in a bright red coat, Cooper waved to her well-wishers and thanked them for their kindness.

Tracy Green, one of the organizers, said a parade was the safest way to celebrate Cooper’s birthday.

“We really wanted to do something that would respect her daughter’s wishes to have family and friends celebrate but in a safe way,” Green said.

Calling Cooper a treasure, she said it was important to honour Cooper for the work she has done to preserve history in Port Moody.

Some who turned out wore costumes, including Willy Martin, a long-time friend who was dressed as a raccoon and presented the centenarian with a basket of grapes and a red scarf.

The racoon was a reminder of the critter that ate all of Mary Anne Cooper’s grapes this past summer.

“I hope she gets a laugh out of it,” said Martin, who had a card specially-made for Cooper and also presented her with $106, one dollar for each year, to go towards a documentary film about Cooper and the history of the City of Port Moody.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to cover the cost of editing and producing the film and documentary filmmaker Eva Wunderman was on hand for the proceedings.

Kelly McLellan, who put red balloons on her car and brought her daughters Madison, 10, and Emily, 8, to the parade said it’s important to recognize Cooper for all she has done for the community.

“She understands the importance of history and how to communicate it to people so they appreciate it,” said McLellan.

The documentary Spirit of Port Moody is expected to capture Cooper’s unique personality and lifestyle and acknowledge her body of work as a senior, who at 87, achieved heritage designation for the historic Ioco townsite.