98-year-old retired firefighter gets drive-by parade

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – COVID-19 has impacted everyone in some way, however maybe some of the most impacted people have been those living in long-term care facilities.

Bob Anderson, also known as “Smokey” during his firefighter days, hasn’t been able to let his family visit him as often as usual at River Pines in Altoona due to the pandemic.

Bob’s granddaughter Jennifer Moen wanted to do something special for her grandpa, since they couldn’t spend Thanksgiving together.

“Now I can’t bring him anywhere. I want to bring something to him that will make him happy,” she said.

That something was a drive-by parade for the retired Eau Claire firefighter by the Eau Claire and Altoona Fire Department’s.

“It’s an honor to be invited to be a part of this and to pay the respect to somebody who gave so much to their community for so long,” said Captain of Health and Safety for the Altoona Fire Department Chad Peterson.

The plan between Moen, River Pines, and the fire departments came together in about a week.

A small, but meaningful moment for the 98-year-old and his family.

“Bob has been with us for a very long time. He’s very social, everybody knows who he is. He has an amazing family that’s always been very involved,” said River Pines House Manager Amanda Balow.

“The only thing that bothers me about this whole (COVID) thing is not being able to see him,” Moen explains. “Like I could care less if I go to a bar or go out to eat.”

Moen usually visits her grandpa from Rochester, MN at least a couple of times a month.

She hadn’t been to River Pines in over a month before Friday, but wanted to show her grandpa how much he means to her and her family.

“COVID has been really hard on everyone, but I think especially for those in long-term care. So it’s just really cool to see our families be so creative and ways to make their loved ones smile and show them that they care and they’re still thinking about them,” said Balow.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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