On a beautiful, momentous day, passersby of one local Waverly farm were sure to notice the line of 90 birthday candles positioned up the driveway of one, Les Leisinger.
Les celebrated his 90th birthday on May 25 this year and was treated to quite the surprise by his family and loved ones. To commemorate the special day, his children and grandchildren came together to put on a unique show of appreciation. On Les’ local farm, the family banded together to line the driveway to the house with exactly 90 birthday candles.
The line of candles surrounded both sides of the drive and was surely a sight to behold.
Les has been a Waverly native since a young age, living and working on the family farm all his life. Despite living outside of town, Les has established a lasting connection with the community and members of his church.
Les’ son, Jon Leisinger, along with his wife, Toni, formulated their plan as far back as early April. Jon, currently living in Council Bluffs, had first seen the idea done in a local newspaper article and immediately thought of his father’s upcoming birthday.
The plan for executing such a task? Pool noodles. Getting advice passed along through his wife’s hairdresser, Jon and Toni went to work. Surprisingly, the feat only took a couple of hours with the two, working as a tag team, completed the project in just one evening after a day at work. They used wood stakes surrounded by colorful pool noodles, with yellow foam at the top to create the picture perfect birthday candles.
Being a ways away from the family farm, Jon and Toni brought the candles up on Easter weekend and delivered them to Les' grandson, Joe Heine, of Denver, to be perfectly sure they were ready to go for Les’ birthday later on.
Fast forward nearly a month, and the day was coming up. The siblings worked out an idea to surprise Les by setting up the scene the night before so that bright and early on his birthday morning, Les could wake up and see the sight before him.
“He had a big smile on his face when he saw them. He was pretty surprised,” daughter Janelle Heine said. “It was a big family affair. We got all the siblings to work together and the grandkids helped out too.
“My sister (Tammy) made a sign that said ‘Happy 90th Birthday Les,’ and it was just great to all come together for our Dad.” Janelle says Les rode in the car down the driveway with that same big smile on his face the whole way.
Les was then treated to a family dinner at his church where loved ones gathered to show their appreciation for their father, grandfather and so much more. The candles were left up for a while, but eventually taken down to be used for future birthdays. The sign however, is still up near the family farm, despite being a little faded from the rainy weather since.
After posting the pictures to Facebook, Janelle received an immense positive response. “We got lots of compliments on it,” she said. “Lots of people were saying it was such a neat idea.”
The siblings collectively agree that putting this together was a wonderful opportunity for the family to work together to show Les just how loved he really is.
“It was definitely a group effort,” Jon said. “We got the grandkids and the siblings and everyone else to all come together to do this for our dad who really deserves it and we think it turned out to be a perfect day.”