On April 10, 2021, Elaine Braden celebrated her 100th birthday! Only one in about six thousand Americans reach this milestone.
Planning for this monumental event began two months earlier. An initial Planning Checklist is given here. One of our first challenges, in the current world of COVID-19 precautions, was to find a location. Thankfully, the management of Greenhouse Cottages took this huge challenge off the board by offering us the use of Cottage 6 (Elaine currently lives in Cottage 4). Among the many benefits was its excellent kitchen facilities and our ability to get into the cottage on the day before (Friday) to do most of the set up activities. What a wonderful gesture!
The next thing to note was that daughter Ellen did most of the work, as she was "on the ground" in Carmel. The celebration would not have worked without her.
Some of the earlier tasks to be accomplished included:
- Requesting a congratulatory letter from the President,
- Requesting a flag that has been flown over the Capitol,
- Compiling a mailing list of relatives, old friends from the military, and neighbors from Maryland,
- Mailing out cards to old friends notifying them of the celebration and giving them an opportunity to send a "best wishes" card or perhaps even a photo or a short story.
The question arose about how to notify local people who knew and/or worked with Elaine about the celebration and inviting them to drop in on the festivities, which were set for noon to 3 PM on the 10th. Ellen accomplished this by a post on Nextdoor and by visiting with the management of Rosewalk on Main (her previous residence) and the management of Greenhouse Cottages.
And then there was:
- Hiring a caterer
- Setting the menu
- Identifying a music group to play during the celebration
- Seeking a Greenhouse Cottages employee to serve as Elaine’s aide during the celebration
- Arranging for a photographer
- Getting the Elaine Braden Day Proclamation from the Mayor of Carmel
- Finding someone to create a slide show with music
- Sorting through albums to find pictures for the slide show
- Identifying a lodging for incoming family members
- Ordering a birthday cake and cupcakes
- Purchasing name tags and birthday decorations for the cottage
The actual preparation for the first celebration begin a week or so early when Ellen took her mother Elaine out for some clothes shopping. Also, a few days before the 10th, Ellen took her Mom out to get her hair and nails done, a very nice event funded courtesy of two of Elaine’s granddaughters: Sandra and Anne.
Beginning Friday, a number of the BradenClan family members began arriving. Karen and her family plus Jay and Joyce flew up from Tampa via Spirit Airlines; Neil and Barry John Wagenfer drove in from Maryland; and Robert and his family drove in from Alabama.
Ellen found a Greenhouse Cottages staff member to be with Nanny during the day to attend to her needs, and this individual, Amy, was just superb. She kept Nanny focused on the activities and attended to her bathroom needs.
We used Fairfield Inn and Suites in Carmel as a place to stay. The facilities was like new and super clean, they gave us great trates, the rooms were spacious, and the dining areas downstairs worked well for food we brought in and for th3e morning breakfast.
The catering crew was also excellent, preparing and serving individual servings of shrimp cocktail, a caprese-like salad, potato salad, and pork tenderloin and beef tenderloin sliders. There was also kids' food: chicken strips, mac 'n' cheese, and cookies. A wide variety of soft drinks was also available. Later there was a birthday cake and cupcakes for desert.
The Harry Davis Band, hired by Ellen for the celebration, entertained us throughout with favorite songs of Elaine.
The Mayor of Carmel designated April 10th as Elaine Braden Day and issued a Proclamation to that effect.
Elaine also received a flag that had been flown over the US Capitol. (Most Senators and Congressmen have a part of their Website marked as "Constutuent Services" or some similar name. A flag that has been flown over the Capitol can be ordered there.)
For those a bit unable to appreciate what the world was like in 1921, we purchased and displayed a "What It Was Like in 1921" Poster.
Ellen had also posted a message on the Nextdoor app, a social networking application that can be targeted towards one's geographic location. She noted Elaine's upcoming 100th birthday and invited readers to send in a card to Elaine care of her residence at Greenhouse Cottages. Over 300 cards were received!!
Another 30 or so cards were received from long time friends of Elaine who lived outside the Indianapolis area. The i8nitial caerd with enclosure that was send out to "old friends" and the sunsequent card sent our tyo persons in the carmel area are given here.
Ellen also used Nextdoor to find someone able to compile pictures into a video presentation with sound. She found a very talented man in the area who did an excellent job! Ellen brought in a DVD player and hooked it to one of the cottage's TVs and the show was on!
Family and guests were encouraged to wear a name tag and given the opportunity to write some birthday wishes for Elaine.
Guests were given the opportunity to take a fun 1921 Quiz (very hard) where quiz takers were asked to decide whether certain major world events and technology innovations occurred before, during, or after There was also a graphic posted that highlighted major events of 1921.
We were very fortunate that no guest nor any other participant had to pull out because of illness or family emergency. Also, all of the planning activities seemed to come togethjer without any hiccups, so there was no last minute scrambling to make something work. Praise the Lord.
In summary, we had a great celebration and want to thank all those who helped make this occasion so special.