Centennial resident Chris Tipoff, third from left, had a wonderful surprise on his 90th birthday when Toronto’s mounted police unit showed up at his driveby party. Chris, Doreen Tipoff, Kevin Tipoff and Gus Klisouris are surrounded by Toronto Police officers and their magnificent horses.

By Kathy Rowe

On February 28, a birthday event to top all birthday events happened right here in Centennial. What took place on Tilley Drive that day even had the event planner himself amazed!

Kevin Tipoff spent weeks planning what would be a surprise birthday drive-by for his father Chris’s 90th birthday celebration. “My father is such an inspiration to so many people,“ Kevin said.  “He is in such amazing shape for his age and he is able to do what people 20 years younger can’t even do.”

Chris Tipoff, a retired Toronto jazz drummer, is an avid skater, which helps explain his strong physique at the age of 90. Chris played hockey well into his 70s. The poster on the front lawn was provided by friends, and with the help of his co-workers Kevin was able to give away more than 160 beautiful cupcakes to everyone who attended the parade.

“I personally called and invited about 65 people so I expected about 60 cars,” Kevin said. He decided to call 43 Division Police Services to request an escort for the parade and that ended up to be a game changer for the event.

As Kevin recalled, “Just before 2 p.m. on February 28, all of the invitees as well as the police escort vehicles met at the parking lot behind Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate. I had to leave the school early to make sure that my parents were ready and outside of their house. When I reached Wichey Road, I saw the mounted police unit and that’s when I lost it.”

The mounted unit was a complete surprise to Kevin and all the spectators along the parade route. “The horses were so tall and so beautiful,” said Kevin. “And once they arrived at the house they stood perfectly still on the driveway for the entire parade. There were about 80 cars that came through so the parade lasted at least an hour. People were getting out for photos with the horses and my dad, we were giving out the cupcakes. It was incredible!”

Centennial residents Gloria and Bob Horton participated in the parade. “We were all singing Happy Birthday and honking horns. You could see and feel the excitement,  warmth and love. As we turned the corner, what a sight – four handsome, gigantic police horses. It took our breath away! It was a day we shall never forget.”

Needless to say that Chris Tipoff was thrilled. “It was amazing,” he said. “The best birthday celebration I could ever have.”