Cross another one off the bucket list.
Growing up in Europe, Marianne Walbergs never had an opportunity to drive a car and when she and her husband moved to northern B.C. she just never got around to it.
There was one occasion, 75 years ago, when she did manage to get behind the wheel but that was as far as it went and she was so frightened she never did it again.
That was until recently when her friends at the Village By the Station, where she is an adult day care client, arranged for a special present to celebrate her 92nd birthday.
“We were just chatting one day about opportunities people hadn’t had and she mentioned she had never driven a car so it was just a bucket list sort of thing,” said Jean Kearney Village recreation co-ordinator.
The centre’s staff enlisted the help of Dawn Schafer of the Penticton Driving School to help organize the unique surprise.
On the special day when Walbergs showed up at the centre she was greeted by her motorized chariot.
“I’m so nervous but what a wonderful opportunity at 92 to try something new,” said the senior prior to her big adventure.
After she was buckled into the driver’s seat, with Schafer by her side at the other controls, she began her cruise up and down the Village lane much in front of the many cheering and applauding spectators that included her granddaughter Fabi visiting from Hawaii.
Just for good measure she reverse parked into one of the centre’s stalls much to the delight of those watching.
“Oh, I did it … well, with a little help from a friend,” said Walbergs after the drive, nodding in the direction of her co-pilot.
She then received an honorary driver’s licence good for a single use on the Village lane way and which she now plans to hang on her wall at home.
“She was so nervous and so thrilled she actually was crying a bit but once she got behind the wheel she did really, really well except there were so many people out there clapping and waving she took both hands off the wheel to wave back but otherwise it went really well,” said Kearney.
While she enjoyed the experience Walbergs doesn’t plan on another drive anytime soon.
“I won’t be heading out into traffic; the streets of Penticton are safe,” she said.