by Mike Knaak
Despite a stay-at-home order, the need to keep socially distant and a strong cold, northwest wind, the Slivnik clan of St. Stephen persisted.
The extended family of Frank Slivnik found a way to safely celebrate his 80th birthday on April 20.
With a family gathering of more than 100 relatives out of the question, Frank’s family organized a socially distant celebration.
“Honk, Frank is 80” signs sprung up in front of Frank’s hilltop house on CR 5 east of St. Stephen. Passing motorists obliged.
Instead of a big party with Frank’s siblings, nine children and more than 100 nieces and nephews, he was surprised by a parade.
While a short parade led by a St. Stephen fire truck and classic cars from the Pantowners club passed in front of his house, sirens and horns blaring, a longer string of about 30 cars wound around a corn field and through Frank and Annette’s farmyard. Frank waived to the passing well-wishers.
One of the parade organizers, niece Teri Mathews, staged the vehicles about a mile away at the original Slivnik family farm, now owned by Randy and Evelyn Slivnik. Frank and his family grew up on the farm that’s been designated a Century Farm.
Mathews said Frank farmed and worked at the paper mill before retirement. In his younger days, Frank played baseball and sang in the church choir. A cancer survivor, he still raises goats and chickens, Mathews said.
The family usually plans a big reunion at Lions Park in St. Stephen every year.
“They know how to hold a bash,” Mathews said.