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Neighbors give local community pioneer surprise social distancing celebration for 80th birthday

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Posted at 11:23 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 23:42:54-04

NORFOLK, Va. - The “stay at home” order didn't stop one local neighborhood from celebrating a man's 80th birthday in the Ghent area of Norfolk.

Thursday evening, neighbors gathered outside to surprise the birthday boy, Jim Brown, a retired Norfolk State University professor. Neighbors also tell us Brown served in the Peace Corps, calling him a pioneer in the community.

To practice social distancing, neighbors lined up on opposite sides of the sidewalk near his home.

“It’s such a special occasion, and for him not to have a party was just too bad so we thought this would be a wonderful way to bring the neighbors to him,” said neighbor Susanne Williams.

Related: Local 4-year-old with cystic fibrosis surprised with birthday party from afar

“It’s hard to believe I’ve lived in Ghent now for over 50 years. When I came here, I was a newcomer and I thought, ‘Oh, those people have been there forever’ – and now I’m one of those people. I’m glad to see all of you and I appreciate you coming out and taking the time. It was a wonderful event; thank you so much,” Brown said.

The party was also a fundraiser for an important cause. In lieu of gifts, donations were made to the food bank in Jim’s name.

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