As Nadine Baum walked into McDonald's on Oct. 13 for what she thought would be a routine lunch with her son, her jaw dropped.
The Baltimore Street restaurant looked a little different.
Balloons, flowers and a birthday cake covered Nadine's regular table, a small booth beside the window, surrounded by friends and crew members, all eager to celebrate her 100th birthday.
Nadine and her son, Mike Baum, have been going to this McDonald's regularly for five or six years, said McDonald's crew member Ginny Slaubaugh, who organized the surprise party.
Slaubaugh and her co-worker, Genevieve Steinbrenner, have come to know many customers by name, and of course, by their order. And after many years of seeing Nadine and Mike on a regular basis, they grew to become friends. In fact, Slaubaugh even calls Nadine "mom."
For years, Nadine said, she ate lunch with her son at McDonald's every day. Recently, they haven't been able to go as often because of Nadine's arthritis, Mike said, but they try to make it as much as possible. Nadine uses a walker, but Slaubaugh said, "She gets around very well. She's got a great mind.”
Because she hasn't been around her McDonald's crew as often, her friends wanted to do something extra special for her birthday, General Manager Sean Patterson said.
Slaubaugh had organized a small get-together for Nadine's 99th birthday the year before, but this year, they wanted to go above and beyond for her. Over a dozen people were there for Nadine's celebration.
The crew got Nadine a cake, cupcakes, balloons, flowers, a card and one hefty gift: a certificate for a lifetime of free McDonald's.
"Now we can see you every day!" Slaubaugh told Nadine.
The 100-year-old beamed as she sat at her regular table, smiling, laughing and thanking her friends.
"I just can't get over this," Baum said. "This is so wonderful."
She blew out her candles, and waited for her lunch - a Big Mac for her and one for her son - to arrive before she had a piece of cake.
Crew members kidded her that she was too well-behaved, resisting the urge to dive into the icing before finishing her lunch.
She sipped on a whipped cream-topped mocha frappe as Patterson joked it was the drink that kept her young.
Eating her Big Mac and laughing with her son, the centenarian radiated the energy of someone decades younger.
"I don't know what I did to deserve all this," Baum said looking around, taking in her celebration. "I count my blessings every day."
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