Friends and family from all around the country called in to wish Merv Shiner a happy 100th birthday, which he celebrated Feb 20.
Now residing in Tampa, Fla., the Bethlehem native was the first to record the hit song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.” Merv joined Hank Williams Sr. on the Grand Ole Opry and performed the song the Saturday before Easter 1950. This opened the door to a 35-year career in the music industry.
Because this birthday is such an incredible milestone, the ongoing pandemic could not deter the celebration. Both Merv and his wife Marilyn have had their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and felt comfortable hosting a safe party where CDC guidelines were followed.
Forty invited guests gathered in the Ministry Center of First Reformed Church of Tampa, with more joining the party virtually through Zoom.
“I like to laugh and have a good time,” Merv explained, and he did just that with over three hours of tributes, stories, jokes, special poems and lots of reminiscing.
There was a special pickin’ and singin’ time with many of his musical friends. Original songs were sung and the sound of mandolins and guitars filled the air.
“It was just terrific,” Merv said.
A special mask just for the occasion was made for Merv to wear that said “Merv’s 100th Birthday” with a picture of Peter Cottontail.
Merv’s spirits are high, he’s in great health and his memory is sharp as a tack.
Music still plays an important part in Merv’s life. He and Marilyn enjoy singing together and are known as the “M&M Duo.” His kind heart and friendship is a blessing to all that know him.
“It’s been a wonderful 100 years,” he said.
Pointillism portrait of Merv Shiner created by Dick Boak Forty invited guests gathered in the Ministry Center of First Reformed Church of Tampa, Fla., with more joining the party virtually through Zoom to mark Merv's 100th birthday Feb. 20.