‘She freaked out’: On her 90th birthday, she finally got to ride a Harley
Headed from Warner Robins, Ga., to Macon’s Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church for her 90th birthday party Saturday, Stella Sarandis thought her son was taking a wrong turn when he pulled into Whiskey River, a Pio Nono Avenue nightclub on the south side of Macon.
Her son, Billy Sarandis, said he was taking a detour and asked her, “What was the one thing you wanted to do … skydiving right?”
“She freaked out,” said her grandson, Stephen Sarandis, who also was in the car.
Months ago, Stella Sarandis had said she wanted to ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle to her 90th birthday party, to cross another item off her bucket list. She rode in hot air balloons to celebrate her 80th and 85th birthdays.
Pulling into the nightclub parking lot, Sarandis saw a group of motorcycles.
“She was excited,” her grandson said. “She was stunned more than anything.”
David Owen had arrived a few minutes earlier and was waiting with his red Harley Davidson three-wheel motorbike with a black leather jacket-clad Papa Smurf stuffed animal on the back.
The U.S. Air Force veteran — who goes by the road name “Papa Smurf” — said he and his wife help charities out from time to time and were glad to help pull off the surprise for Sarandis.
Owen’s wife, Donna — who usually rides behind her husband on the trike — outfitted Sarandis with a pair of black wraparound sunglasses, a black do-rag and a black helmet with a pink, braided pony tail sticking out the back.
Nick Zoumberis said he’s known Sarandis most of his life and enlisted the help of a friend who helped arrange not just for Sarandis to ride, but for her to have an escort of several motorcycles.
With the temperature in the upper 90s, Owen and Sarandis motored out of the Whiskey River parking lot and traced a route along Guy Paine Road to Broadway and on up to the church where Sarandis was a charter member in 1970s.
A crowd came outside as the motorcycles circled the parking lot.
Many of the people gathered clapped and snapped pictures of Sarandis.
She opened a gift, a miniature motorcycle, before being helped off the bike and led inside where a cake was waiting.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “I never thought it would happen.”
Asked what she wants to do for her 95th birthday, Sarandis said, “I don’t dare say.”
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