Socially Distanced Drive-Thru Celebration Honors a Santa Monica Centenarian

By Anthony Torrise

Fêted by a caravan of well-wishers, Sam Marquez also celebrated his 100th birthday with a Dodger-themed celebration and family
Photo by Steven Marquez

On May 5, the community of Santa Monica came together in their cars to celebrate one of its longtime residents who turned 100 years old earlier this month.

On that day, Sam Marquez watched for 45 minutes as about 40 cars drove by his house on Hill Street, waving handmade signs and blaring horns. Among those in the lineup were members of the Santa Monica Police and Fire Departments.

Marquez had originally planned to celebrate his centennial at a Dodgers game and was disappointed when the game was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, his frown turned right upside down once he saw the convoy coming by.

“What I enjoyed most about my birthday parade and celebration was that everybody who came was happy and had a good time, even for a little while, during this coronavirus quarantine,” says Marquez.

Marquez is a lifelong resident of Los Angeles, having moved to Santa Monica when he was just four years old. He attended Santa Monica High School until he dropped out to begin working. After a few years he went to serve in the United States Army from 1942 until 1944. After his time in the Army, Marquez returned to Santa Monica where he became a gardener, retiring at the age of 87.

According to Marquez, his key to living to one hundred years old is to: “Stay active everyday. When you sit still, you die.”

Staying true to those words, Marquez continues to get outside whenever he can. He takes great pride in his garden, where he regularly attends to his orchids and succulents. He also likes to take daily walks throughout his neighborhood, which has helped him become strongly connected to the community.

Alongside his wife, two of his children, three of his grandchildren, and four of his great-grandchildren, May 5’s celebration was a spectacle that none are soon to forget.

“Now he doesn’t want a party because the memory of his birthday was so great,” said Marquez’s grandson Steven Marquez.