OTTAWA -- When Jacqueline Gold stepped onto her front lawn Wednesday night, she got the surprise of her life.

Friends had gathered for a socially-distanced 50th birthday celebration.

Before the pandemic ended her plans, Jacqueline was going to celebrate her 50th birthday in style overseas in Europe, but COVID-19 put an end to that.

“Before COVID I would have been in Italy right now with some of the friends here tonight having some wine and cheese,” Gold said. “I’m blown away by the love of my family and friends I had no idea of any of any of this. All of a sudden I walk out to this, so I’m ecstatic blown away and I love everyone.

"I woke up last night around 2 a.m. I’m like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m 50,’ but I was very thankful I was still alive.”

Jacqueline’s friend Kelly O'Reilly was the brains behind the surprise and spent days planning it with friends. They carved and decorated 50 pumpkins, one for each of Gold’s 50 years.

“She just loves Halloween so I said why don’t we just get pumpkins and get everyone to decorate 50 pumpkins and then come and sing,” O’Reilly said. “She was bummed out about her 50th so she is not going to forget this.”

Gold’s husband Bob Conlin helped keep her occupied while her dedicated friends decorated her front yard. He was grateful for the distraction from pandemic life.

“Many of the people you will see here tonight we have not seen in quite some time,” Conlin said. “It’s been difficult for everybody. I don’t think anyone is immune to staying at home and being at home, being totally out of a routine that has been established for your whole lives.”

The newly-minted 50-year-old has some advice for everyone who is struggling with the new normal.

“These are different times, and we just need to stick together and get through it.”