ENFIELD, CT — On May 5, 1923, Prohibition was in full effect, Warren G. Harding was president of the United States and Yankee Stadium – “The House That Ruth Built” – had been open for all of 17 days. On that same date, also in New York, a baby named Arlene Brown was born in suburban Albany, and in each of the 97 years that have followed, she and her family have celebrated her birthday in grand style.
After growing up in Amsterdam, N.Y., she married Isaac “Ike” Kinnin, a meat cutter, and they operated a store. In early 1963, they sold the business and moved to Enfield, finding work first at the Shaker Pines Market on North Maple St., then Geissler’s Market from 1967 until retiring in 1981. They moved to Florida, but Arlene returned to Enfield upon her husband’s passing in 1988. She lives with her daughter Barbara McClure on Aloha Dr., across the street from the family’s former home, now owned by her son Bruce and daughter-in-law Marci.
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Normally, Arlene’s birthday parties have a Kentucky Derby theme, taking place in the first week of May. However, with serious social restrictions currently in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, a prohibition on large gatherings seemed to nullify any chance for her to celebrate her 97th with loved ones.
Her granddaughter, Laura Kinnin, had other ideas. She organized a motorcade, consisting of 20 vehicles, to drive slowly past “Meme’s” home and provide her with expressions of love. Many of the vehicles were adorned with signs and decorations, and the procession was capped off by a North Thompsonville Fire Department vehicle.
“Seeing her face made my heart warm; she was so genuinely happy,” Laura Kinnin said.
“I figured I wouldn’t have a birthday this year,” Arlene said, “so when I saw all the cars, it felt really good.”
This article originally appeared on the Enfield Patch