Laguna Beach Woman Gets Car Parade for 95th Birthday

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Helen Yzabal of Laguna Beach celebrated her 95th birthday on Wednesday with a car parade off of Laguna Canyon Road. Photo by Daniel Langhorne.

Laguna Beach paramedic David Lopez gifted a plastic firefighter helmet emblazoned with “junior firefighter” to 95-year-old Helen Yzabal during a car parade held to celebrate her birthday on Wednesday.

Before getting back in his fire engine, Lopez told Yzabal he hoped to only have to see her under these celebratory circumstances.

The parade organized by Yzabal’s daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca and John Barber, brought about 50 people to the Laguna College of Art + Design parking lot at 2825 Canyon Road. A master glassblower, Barber established his glass design shop on Laguna Canyon Road in 1978.

Helen Yzabal of Laguna Beach was visited Wednesday by Laguna Beach paramedic David Lopez during a car parade celebrating her 95th birthday. Photo by Daniel Langhorne.

A Laguna Beach fire engine, Doctor’s ambulance, Bentley convertible, and Chevy Bel Air were among the vehicles that paraded in front Yzabal, sitting in her wheelchair and wearing a black sash inscribed with “It’s My Birthday.”

“I think it’s fabulous,” Yzabal said. “I always knew I had a lot of friends but this has awakened me.”

Yzabal added that she felt fortunate to have so many friends with adult sons who call her “Aunt Helen,” even though she’s not related to them.

John Barber said his mother-in-law forgets about the ongoing pandemic while she’s self-isolating at home. Typically, she goes to the hair and nail salons to get pampered once a week. Rebecca Barber has temporarily stepped in to provide her mom with these self-care treatments.

Laguna Canyon resident Ann Quilter showed up in a party hart, purple rubber gloves, a heart-themed face mask, and festooned in colorful strands of stars to spread some joy to her long-time neighbor.

“In the time that we live in, it’s extremely important to band together as a community, with our friends and loved ones, and show that they’re cared about,” Quilter said. “This is Laguna. This is what we do.”

The birthday parade was also a six-foot-wide reunion for Yzabal’s friends, neighbors, and family members—one visitor came from as far away as La Quinta—amid the governor’s stay-at-home order prompted by the coronavirus. About 20 minutes into the parade, an LCAD campus safety officer drove by to usher Yzabal’s visitors out of the parking lot.

Helen Yzabal of Laguna Beach received well wishes from a pair of visitors during a car parade held Wednesday to celebrate her 95th birthday. Photo by Daniel Langhorne.
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