Cape woman turns 104, rides fire truck
A Cape Coral woman marked her 104th birthday Thursday with a ride on a fire truck.
A resident of Juniper Village, Lorena Schmidt celebrated her big day with family and friends. Mayor John Sullivan and Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz were in attendance, as well as members of the Cape fire department. As part of the festivities, she was presented with a cake – and all 104 candles.
“Some went on and off,” Schmidt said of trying to put them out. “I finally blew them all off.”
Acting Division Chief of Operations Christopher Moore helped bring out the cake.
“I really did note the heat,” he laughed.
Moore put together a presentation for the group on how the fire service industry has changed since 1909, when Schmidt was born. Horse-drawn fire wagons and stream-driven pumps were in use.
The last horse-drawn fire wagon was officially decommissioned in 1922.
“At what milestones in her life we were changing our technology and equipment,” Moore said, referring to the material that he covered in his presentation.
“Her life span is impressive,” he added.
Schmidt called the 104th celebration the biggest held at Juniper so far.
“This was a very unusual birthday,” she said.
Schmidt received a certificate of recognition and rode around the block in a fire truck.
“I couldn’t get up on the big wide steps, so up I went in the arms of a fireman,” Schmidt said.
“That was the big thrill of the day,” she laughed.
“He scooped her up and put her right in,” Moore confirmed of the firefighter’s actions.
The fire crew activated the truck’s lights and sirens during the ride.
Executive director Brenda Ortiz said Juniper started the celebrations on Schmidt’s 100th birthday.
“We’ve been doing this for Lorena since she was 100 years old,” she said.
“We don’t get the opportunity to celebrate 100-plus birthdays very often,” Ortiz added. “This is something special because we don’t have a very large amount of residents who reach that age.”
Schmidt was an educator for 48 years. She began in New York in 1928 and did so for 37 years, before her family moved to the Cape in 1966. She taught at Cape Elementary for an additional 11 years.
She has been a resident of Juniper Village since October 2005.
“Lorena is an absolute joy. Lorena will always find the good in everyone, and she never has a negative thing to say about anyone,” Ortiz said. “I think that comes from being an elementary school teacher.”
Surprisingly, Schmidt was a bit of a rebel when she was young.
In high school, she was sent to the principal’s office 16 times for chewing gum.
“I did cross the frozen Niagara Falls in 1938,” Schmidt said, pointing out some of her adventures. “When I was 80 years old, I was the grand marshal of the Mickey Mouse parade in Orlando.”
“That was a thrill, seeing all those people,” she said.
Asked about achieving a long life, she attributed her success to “the good Lord above.”
Schmidt also has a mantra she likes to live by and recite for others.
“Keep a song in your heart, a smile on your lips, joy in your eyes and love for everybody,” she said.
Moore explained that taking part Thursday was a way to honor and celebrate a unique woman.
“We’re trying to give back to the community in a positive way,” he said.
“She’s an impressive, fun loving, amazing woman,” Moore added.
Schmidt has a daughter in the Cape and became a great-grandmother in December.
Juniper Village is at 4920 Viceroy Court.