Dan Hoffman’s neighbors kept their distance but still showed their affection on his special day.
In years past, Dan Hoffman’s birthday brought out the neighborhood for a barbecue party, which included rhubarb pie.
But for his 97th, on Thursday, times have changed.
“I wish we could do more,” said Hoffman’s next door neighbor Renee Burns. “We just didn’t want to give him any germs or take the risk.”
So they settled for balloons tied to his porch, snapping against their ribbons in the strong chilly breeze, and a few Happy Birthday signs attached to the wrought iron railing.
Hoffman, her husband, Will, and her two sons, Brody, 10, and Byron, 7, were among the two dozen neighbors standing in the driveway and on the sidewalk of Hoffman’s home on 28th Street Terrace, west of 27th and north of Vine streets.
“Whenever he needs something, I go over and try to fix it,” said Will, confessing he’s not really a handyman.
“When the boys are outside, he’ll come to the back fence and throw candy over,” Renee said.
“Everyone here is very neighborly,” said Randall Braden, who lives catercorner across the street from Hoffman. “We know them all, up and down the block.”
LaChelle Fitzmorris lives across the street. Fitzmorris and her sons, Declan, 11, and Kellan, 8, also came out with noise makers and birthday hats to sing Happy Birthday. They’ve known Hoffman for almost two decades, and his wife, too, when she was alive.
“If he sees the boys in the front yard, he comes over and gives them quarters,” she said.
With everyone in place, a phone call brought Hoffman out his front door, surprised by a round of the Happy Birthday song, followed by cheers.
“What in the world’s going on?” he smiled.