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Senior Lifestyles

New Franklin senior granted birthday wish

5/2/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

On her 99th birthday, Mae Packan was picked up at her home and treated to a ride in one of New Franklin Fire Department’s fire trucks. Her neighbors organized the surprise.
After Packan took a spin in the fire truck, she was outfitted in the uniform of a New Franklin firefighter. She is pictured with firefighters Pat Kapper, at left, and Lt. Don Burroughs.
Photos courtesy of Kathleen Pickering
NEW FRANKLIN — According to a friend, Mae Packan has been talking about her desire to ride in a fire truck for years.

That friend, Kathleen Pickering, along with other neighbors, friends and relatives, organized a 99th birthday surprise that fulfilled that dream April 16.

Packan, who was born April 16, 1914, admitted she has had a thing for fire trucks since she was probably 4 years old.

“I always thought firemen were my heroes from the time I was very little,” she said. “To me, that fireman standing at the back of the truck was my hero going to rescue that damsel in distress.”

Packan said she was “absolutely astounded” when she saw the fire truck at her house. She thought she would be going out to lunch when she opened her front door and saw the vehicle.

“I’ll be perfectly honest,” she said, “I looked at that fire truck, and I asked myself, ‘Did I have a fire and I slept through it?’”

“Momentarily, I thought that,” she added. “I know I’m 99, but I’m not that far gone.”

Pickering said she enlisted the help of New Franklin firefighter and neighbor Pat Kapper to arrange the surprise.

Kapper and other department personnel helped Packan into the vehicle and took her on a ride from her home on Yager Road through residential and rural areas, she said.

“He said to me, ‘Do you want me to blow the horns?’ and I said ‘Absolutely!’” said Packan. “That was a big part of it.”

After her ride, Packan got to try on a firefighter’s uniform, she said.

Packan said she appreciated members of the Fire Department going out of their way to make her 99th birthday special.

“It was great fun, and I enjoyed every single solitary second of it,” she said. “It was just a great, exciting 99th birthday.”

“I was so grateful to the Fire Department,” she added. “I really want to thank them.”

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