ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Community members gathered by vehicle to celebrate a man who has been in the Rock Hill area for decades. Johnny McKinney, longtime member of Pineville AME Zion Church in Rock Hill, turned 102 last Thursday.
McKinney’s family had a blowout planned for his 102nd birthday, but plans changed as the coronavirus pandemic continued. Instead, family and friends decided to do something McKinney had never experienced: A drive-thru parade celebration.
“We wanted to show him how much he meant to us, even in these difficult times,” one of McKinney’s 12 grandchildren, John McKinney said.
Johnny McKinney, wearing a crown, sat in an over-sized intricate golden chair as nearly 40 cars drove by.
“He’s the patriarch of our family. He’s the king of our family,” John McKinney said, “and we felt compelled to treat him as such.”
Johnny McKinney has 30 great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.
A face mask covered Johnny McKinney’s smile as friends and family held up signs, dropped off gifts and relayed some special words.
“He was happy to say the least, surprised,” John McKinney said. “He was happy to know that people would take some time out of their day to wish him a Happy Birthday.”
The parade was held last Saturday, a day that worked with everyone’s schedules and a day that would surprise the birthday boy. “It was the best way to do it considering the COVID-19,” John McKinney said of the parade. “It was just something that he’s never experienced before. He was thankful and grateful.”
John Mckinney describes his grandfather as a “real gem” who has a huge heart and never speaks negatively about anyone.
Johnny McKinney’s turning of 102 is “amazing” his grandson says, but it appears to run in the family. McKinney’s sister, who was also in attendance at the celebration, will turn 100 at the end of July.
“He says that his secret is to love everybody, be nice to everybody,” John McKinney said on what his grandfather credits his longevity to. “His main focus is following God. If God tells him to move, he moves.”
Johnny McKinney has lived in his Rock Hill home since the 1950′s. It’s there that he spends his days cooking and going on walks. He frequently visits his wife’s grave, which is at a cemetery within walking distance to his home.
Johnny McKinney’s birthday celebration is something he won’t forget, partially because he has a sharp memory. “He’s still shocked and amazed,” his grandson said.