Family celebrates Chicago woman's 99th birthday with car parade

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago woman isn't letting the COVID-19 pandemic stop her from celebrating her 99th birthday.

Family and friends had a big party planned for Jeanette Polk Smith. But they had to cancel, and planned a car parade instead.

"So today my great-aunt Jean is turning 99. She had a birthday party planned. But with all that's happening with the coronavirus, that had to be postponed," said Jean's grand-niece Leigh Logan. "So we're doing a drive-by birthday party in her little driveway of her apartment."

Smith had some advice for people trying to reach her age.

"Just to keep busy and be in something that you can move around, just don't sit," Smith said.

Logan called her great-aunt "very fiesty."

"She knows what she wants and she know just how to talk to people," Logan said. "She likes being around people, she likes being social. She's the life of the party."

Jean's grand-nephew, Lyle Richie Logan, called Smith a "very caring person."

"If she cares about you, you're going to know because she will do whatever she can for you. She'll go on a bus for 45 minutes to go get me a T-shirt. Or she'll go all the way up from her house on the South Side to downtown to get my sister some gifts."

Smith's grand-nephew added, "But if you also get on her bad side, you'll definitely know it too."

Smith said she enjoys sewing and likes to keep busy. She also loves bowling, though she hasn't been able to recently due to mandated closures to limit coronavirus spread.

"I think what makes her special is that she's just been able to be herself for such a long time," Leigh Logan said.

Smith left her family and friends with some advice.

"My last words are to love everybody, talk to everybody and be good," she said.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.