It was a little blustery and a little gray, but the love was all around as family and friends gathered in Loreauville to celebrate Jahia Renee Simon’s Sweet 16 birthday with a drive-by celebration and mini concert on Blackline Road.

Simon, a sophomore at Loreauville High School, knew that the procession was planned. Shortly before 3 p.m., she was waiting along the side of the road with her friends and her dog, Amber, both wearing their masks.

As the train of vehicles passed wishing her well, she and others carried brownies and souvenirs to those participating in the event even as the attendees showered Simon with cards and gifts.

But there was still a surprise in store. Her grandmother, gospel singer Joyce Sorrel, had also arranged for a performance from “Young Hub City” and, as a special surprise, had written a song to sing to her granddaughter.

“This is called ‘Your Sweet 16,’” she said as she introduced the song. Before she had even finished the first verse, Simon was in tears, obviously moved as she continued to listen to the ballad.

In addition to those who could be physically present for the gathering, Simon received FaceTime greetings from other friends, including JaRon Marshall of the Black Pumas, Roi Anthony, Tucka and Nebu Nezey.

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at

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