KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — “Rocky Top” is usually sung for the Vols, but on Sunday it was dedicated to Barbara Sweeney in celebration of her 102nd birthday.
“It’s a little long to live, believe me,” Sweeney said. “But I’ve had a wonderful life, I wouldn’t change one thing.”
“Rocky Top” wasn’t the only thing Sweeney heard at her party. Blaring their sirens, Rural Metro firefighters stopped by to wish her a happy birthday as well.
“We love seeing our citizens of Knox County thriving and doing good and it’s great to come out here and celebrate and see how wonderful of a life she’s had,” Logan Blaylock, the captain of Station No. 28 said.
Sweeney also had a few friendly faces from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office stop by. Those from Rural Metro and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office stopped by Sweeney’s home two years ago while she was celebrating her 100th birthday during the pandemic.
They did a drive-by parade then, and now they are glad they got to interact with her in person. Something Sweeney was grateful for too.
“I was really surprised because they’ve always been so good each time we’ve needed them,” she said.
Sometimes that’s all that’s needed, a friendly smile and a conversation, something Jessye Eldridge with KCSO said is just as much of a present to first responders as it is to Sweeney.
“Normally whenever we are in public and we deal with someone, we’re dealing with somebody on their worst day,” Eldridge said. “So to see somebody, especially on their 102nd birthday, I mean that’s great. It’s awesome to be a part of the public and just to do it for the community. It’s very heartwarming,” he said.
It’s another year Sweeney says she won’t take for granted and she hopes to see the first responders this time next year to celebrate another year younger.