At first, Doris Prendiville of Quincy didn’t know why everyone was making such a fuss.
“I didn’t see any reason,” the 92-year-old woman said Wednesday morning. “Why plain old me? What have I done to make myself special?”
“How about a random act of kindness?” answered hairstylist Lisa Venuti-Alongi.
On Wednesday, her community proclaimed Prendiville “Queen for a Day,” a gesture of celebration and appreciation by friends, neighbors, and city officials for her perseverance while recovering from a fractured sternum she suffered when she was mugged just before Thanksgiving.
Everyone, it seems, had heard about the robbery, which occurred when she was on her way home from a CVS with two newspapers last month. Wednesday was all about praising her grit.
Eventually, as the excitement built, Prendiville realized it was good to be queen and started to enjoy the ride. The retired secretary was squired around Quincy, first by her daughter to get her hair done at HairPlace One. Salon owner Ron Affsa greeted her as she walked in, calling her “the woman of the hour.” She spent the morning in curlers.
“We’re just trying to show that Quincy has more kindness than what she endured,” Affsa said. “And she knows that, she’s from here.”
That evening, after a perm and a nap, Prendiville headed to a restaurant in an SUV driven by a personal driver and accompanied by a police escort with blue lights blazing. The police blocked roads so the entourage could breeze through red lights.
Prendiville got a real kick out of that.
“People are really hungry for a party. Geez!” Prendiville said as she looked around from inside the SUV. “Well, alrighty, let’s party. This is so wacky for an ordinary person.”
The driver told her that the last time he drove to Quincy it was to shuttle New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, to a restaurant.
“They’re going to think you’re Tom Brady,” said Prendiville’s daughter, Chris.
When they arrived at Alba, a Mediterranean steak house in Quincy Center, Prendiville was glowing as she shuffled in on her walker. She was greeted by a room of nearly 100 people. Many were holding large cutouts of her smiling face. Her smile was almost as large.
Mission accomplished, from Jeffrey Sullivan’s standpoint.
Sullivan helped organized the event for Prendiville through his local Facebook group, Quincy is Everything. It has nearly 16,000 members.
“I just thought it would be such a nice honor for her and all of us to be able to celebrate her life, her will, her perseverance, and her resolve to get through it,” Sullivan said, “and to reclaim that innocence that many of us that grew up in Quincy believe we still have.”
He had posted the faces of the perpetrators on Facebook, offering a reward for information.
Recalling the attack, Prendiville, who still has bruises on her arm, called her mugger a “rat.”
“If he’d asked me for money, I would’ve given it to him,” she said. “I would not risk my hide to save money. He’s nasty and deserves to be treated like a nasty person. Let him roast in jail.”
Markell Cruz, 27, of Somerville, allegedly shoved Prendiville and stole her purse, which contained $50. His alleged accomplice, identified as Kayla Noel-Brown, 26, of Quincy, helped the woman up and comforted her briefly, but left before police arrived. Both were eventually arrested.
“She’d rather be a celebrity for winning the lottery,” her daughter said. “My mother is just having a ball. She’s a social butterfly, and this is a great way to end the year and look forward to a healthier and happier 2018.”
She called her mother “feisty, strong, and a Viking,” because Prendiville is Swedish.
Dinner that night was on the house. Prendiville was treated to a performance of dances from the 1920s to the 1970s courtesy of the Center Stage Performing Arts Studio. She danced along in her chair to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
“It was an honor to be able to perform for Mrs. Prendiville,” said Laurie Graf, director of Center Stage Performing Arts Studio. “I wanted to thank her for being an inspiration to the youth in our community, because sometimes awful things happen to really great people, and how you handle it shows your character.”
Their group presented her with a bouquet of flowers and a team sweat shirt with Prendiville’s name embroidered on it. She’s now an honorary member of the team.
“It’s still a little wacky,” Prendiville said as she ate a piece of shrimp. “But it’s fun wacky. If I’m necessary to make a party, then I’m all set. This is a lovely place to party in.”Cristela Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.