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Road trip ends in birthday surprise for former resident

Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 12:51 p.m. CDT
(Joe Sinopoli -
Arlene DiBartolo drove up from Florida with her daughter, Denise Bollinger, to celebrated her 80th birthday in her hometown July 16. DiBartolo visited MacNeal Hospital where she was born.

BERWYN – Former Berwyn resident Arlene DiBartolo was soon to celebrate her 80th birthday, but said she didn’t want some big party in Florida, where she now lives.

So her daughter, Denise Bollinger, had an idea – a road trip.

Denise drove from her home in Naples, Fla., to her mother’s home in Boynton Beach, snatched her up and the two hit the road with stops planned in Savannah, Charleston, S.C. and Nashville, Ga. But their final destination was Berwyn, the place that DiBartolo says always will be home.

“My daughter is one for throwing surprises,” DiBartolo said. “I didn’t want her to just throw me a big 80th birthday in Florida. I wanted to be back where my roots were. I wanted to see my brother and our family again.”

On July 16, the two took in a show downtown to see “The Million Dollar Quartet.”

“It’s all the musicians of my generation, I highly reccommend it,” DiBartolo said.

On the way home, there was a surprise waiting for DiBartolo at Bohemian Crystal restaurant in Westmont.

“My daughter said, ‘Mom, how about having a good Bohemian meal tonight?’ Without even thinking, I [said] ‘let’s go to Bohemian Crystal,’” DiBartolo said. “They have the most authentic Bohemian food. I can’t say enough about it.”

Curiously, they just happened to be near the restaurant where inside, DiBartolo’s family was waiting to yell out happy birthday when she arrived.

The mother and daughter also a visited MacNeal Hospital, where Dibartolo, as well as her own daughters were born.

“My daughter is very good at pulling off surprises,” she said. “Or else I’m very naive.”

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