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America’s Oldest Person Just Turned 116, But Wait Till You See How She Looks Like Today

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America’s Oldest Person Just Turned 116, But Wait Till You See How She Looks Like Today

The oldest person in the United States just turned 116!

The Gerontology Research Group states that Edith “Edie” Recagno Keenan Ceccarelli, who resides in the small hamlet of Willits in northern California, is the second-oldest person on the planet.

On February 5, she celebrated another year around the sun. Her birthday is celebrated by the town of Willits every year, and on Sunday, February 4, there was a parade to honor her 116 years of life.

According to planners and city officials who spoke with USA TODAY, Ceccarelli is a beloved local treasure and a star, and her birthday procession is the biggest celebration of the year in Willits.

The fire and police departments, as well as a vice mayor and a council member, will drive in the procession.

Along for the celebration will be the Boy Scouts, a couple horses, and a well-known dog walker from the area.

Cars adorned with balloons, flags, placards, and streamers are able to pass Ceccarelli’s assisted living facility, which is visible to both Willits locals and visitors arriving for the parade.

“Every year at her birthday, we make sure she knows how special she is,” main parade organizer Suzanne Picetti told USA TODAY.

@mendocinocountyhistory She will be 116 on February 5, 2024 #cententarian #ediececcarelli #mendocinocounty #california #willits #history #fyp ♬ Stories 2 – Danilo Stankovic

In February 2023, Edith “Edie” Recagno Keenan Ceccarelli celebrated her 115th birthday in Willits, California.

According to Perla Gonzalez, one of Ceccarelli’s caregivers at the Holy Spirit Residential Care Home in Willits, Ceccarelli is most likely looking forward to the carrot cake her family ordered for Sunday.

“She got very excited when she learned the cake would be carrot cake,” Gonzalez said. “She said, ‘Oh really, honey?,’ and lit up.”

Ceccarelli ate cake and strawberry ice cream, two more of her favorite treats, on Sunday at around 11:30 a.m., Gonzalez, 51, added. “She’ll probably need to nap before the main celebrations start.”

In previous years, Ceccarelli shared birthday confections with large groups of people in downtown Willits. Due to COVID-19, the annual celebration has changed to a drive-by parade as of 2021, Evelyn Persico, Ceccarelli’s cousin, said USA TODAY.

This Sunday at 1 p.m., the car caravan is expected to begin, and Picetti, 62, estimated that it will last for approximately an hour. Rain is predicted, so fewer people than in previous years might attend, she said. Every year in December, the February event organizers start organizing.

The Holy Spirit personnel, the family, and the organizers confirmed that the march will take place rain or shine.

Friends even wrote in The Willits News urging everyone to attend Ceccarelli’s 100th birthday celebration. Picetti added that Ceccarelli started inviting the entire town to join her in celebrating.

“Her birthday, ever since she was 100 has always been a community thing, a public party,” Picetti said. “It brings community together to celebrate a really special human being. It bring a lot of joy and happiness to our community.”

Courtesy of Suzanne Picetti

According to family and caregivers, Ceccarelli is no longer able to carry on a conversation or make phone calls like she used to. Although she only moved into an assisted living residence at the age of 107, she is still able to feed herself.

Married to Lee Persico, Ceccarelli’s second cousin, Persico claimed she has always been a “people person” and a hard worker. Persico said she developed a close friendship with Ceccarelli following her retirement from a Willits bank.

“I just feel that she’s God’s chosen one to be on Earth as long as she has been,” Persico told USA TODAY, mentioning how well-liked Ceccarelli is in the neighborhood, especially by Mendocino County historians.

Courtesy of Evelyn Persico

Family reports Cecilli was a lifelong Californian who was always a diligent worker. She was born in Willits in 1908 and has only ever resided in northern California, at various points in her life living in Eureka, Ukiah, and Santa Rosa. According to her family, her parents left Italy in the early 1900s and moved to Willits.

Town clerk Delores Pedersen, 52, said, “It’s really an honor for the city to have a person with the history she has, having been born and raised in Willits,” When Ceccarelli would come in to pay her water bill, she would first meet him almost twenty years ago when she was employed at city hall.

According to Persico, Ceccarelli is the oldest of seven children and has outlived all of her siblings. As children, all of the children helped out by doing odd tasks, such as digging potatoes in the valley, and bringing money home to their parents, according to Persico.

She remarked, “Back in the day, it was all work, work, work,” recalling how Ceccarelli’s father had constructed the home in which she was born in the early 1900s. “It was just physical labor back in those days, they walked everywhere, they didn’t have a car, they grew their own food. You watch these old movies and that’s kind of the life that they lived.”

According to Picetti, Ceccarelli gained notoriety for her sophisticated sense of style later in life. She was known to stroll around town wearing a hat, gloves, jewelry, and flawless makeup well past the age of 100.

“Every day she would walk downtown, dressed to the nines, right down to the jewelry and the purse,” she continued.

The newspaper that Ceccarelli’s first husband worked for, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, was still published. He was a typesetter. Persico stated that Ceccarelli and her husband had three grandkids and one daughter together.

As an adult, Ceccarelli enjoyed cooking, walking, dancing, and gardening.

“She had a very happy, fruitful life,” Persico said.

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