A Second World War veteran in Toronto celebrated his 100th birthday on Saturday in style with a band, massive cake and more than 90,000 birthday cards.
Fred Arsenault became a viral sensation after he requested 100 cards for his birthday, one to mark each year of his life. His son posted the request on social media and was shocked at the response that followed.
More than 90,000 cards of all shapes, sizes and colours arrived at Sunnybrook’s Veterans Centre ahead of Fred Arsenault’s birthday, which was on Friday.
“They’re still coming in,” his son Ron Arsenault said. “We’re just blown away by all of this.”
The cards came from all over the world, including the Netherlands where Fred Arsenault served during the Second World War. Many of the cards included personal messages thanking him for his service.
Fred Arsenault’s birthday celebration was held inside the 73rd branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. There were balloons, a band and a six-tier cake—with each layer representing a different part of Fred Arsenault’s life.
Toronto Mayor John Tory took a moment to drop by the festivities and said that after he shared a message on Twitter about the birthday cards, more strangers started sending them to his office.
“I can’t imagine being his mail-letter carrier. I mean, they were having bags and bins of cards, but you know what, that’s a great thing for him and I hope it’s a great thing for everybody he represents.”
The idea to ask for birthday cards started because Fred Arsenault likes to get mail, his son told CTV News Toronto earlier this week. The veteran used to get letters from his wife during the war and would read them at night inside the trenches.
On Saturday, Fred Arsenault appeared to enjoy the birthday celebrations, but he can’t quite imagine why so many strangers would send him cards.
“What did I do for all that?” he asked.