SUDBURY -- The sun shone down upon Denise Thompson for her 100th birthday Thursday.

In the midst of a pandemic lockdown, her friends were not allowed to throw her a big party, but they still managed to arrange for a COVID-safe celebration.

The recognition began with a drive-by on Government Road of about 200 well-wishers. Drivers honked their horns for Thompson as she sat comfortably on a chair, holding an arrangement of balloons. She's pretty well known, considering she's lived in the town for 78 years.

"It was amazing," Thompson said.

She also received a special blessing at Holy Name of Jesus Church. The mass was organized by the Catholic Women's League, of which Thompson has been a member for 60 years.

“What amazes me about Denise is the fact that at this age she lives in an upstairs apartment -- 21 steps to climb and at one time, she said that’s what keeps her healthy," said fellow Catholic Women's League member, Mary Rozich.

"She does have a chair lift. She puts her groceries on the chair lift and she walks up the stairs beside them."

Living a good life

Thompson was born in New Liskeard. She's predeceased by her husband, parents and four siblings. She said she's done her best to live a good life.

“Cause we always had healthy food at home on the farm.”

Another close friend, Theresa Sangiuliano, said living to see her 100th birthday has been a long-time goal for Thompson.

“That’s all her wish was all the time," Sangiuliano said. "She had to live to be a 100, so I thought we’ll try hard to keep you there and she made it."

Of the many birthday wishes Thompson has received, one is from the Pope and one from the Timmins Diocese. There's also more on the way from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and from Queen Elizabeth.

Thompson said now she is going to work on her next goal, and that is to live to celebrate her 120th birthday.