America’s Oldest Resident Celebrates Birthday At Her Own California Parade

Edith “Edie” Ceccarelli celebrated her 116th birthday on February 5, 2024, making her not only the oldest person in the United States but also the second oldest in the world. A resident of Willits, California, Edie has spent her entire life in her hometown.

A Town’s Tradition

Annually, the town of Willits marks Edie’s birthday with a dedicated parade that welcomes the entire community. The parade includes local officials, musicians, dogs, fire trucks, garbage trucks, and cars adorned with streamers and balloons. Neighbors joyfully call out “Happy birthday!” as Edie observes from her porch, adorned in a red sweater and matching lipstick.

The tradition began on Edie’s 100th birthday in 2008 when she organized a grand celebration at a local events hall. Since then, the town has taken charge of the festivities, turning it into a public event that spreads happiness throughout the community.

A Long and Happy Life

Born Edith Recagno in 1908, the same year Henry Ford introduced the Model T, Edie has witnessed numerous historical events and changes. The eldest of seven siblings, she outlived them all. She married twice, first to John Keenan, who passed away in 1963, and later to Fred Ceccarelli, who died in 1985. While she has no children, she enjoys regular visits from numerous relatives and friends.

Edie attributes her remarkable longevity to a bit of red wine and minding her own business. She finds joy in dressing up, dancing, cooking, and taking walks. Despite battling dementia, she experiences moments of clarity and humor.

A Rare Distinction

Edie is among the select few in the world who have reached the age of 116, a distinction known as supercentenarian. According to the Gerontology Research Group, which verifies the ages of the oldest people globally, there were only 31 living supercentenarians as of February 2024. The only person surpassing Edie’s age is Maria Branyas Morera of Spain, who is 117 years old.

Researchers and media outlets have taken notice of Edie’s exceptional age and life, conducting interviews and studying her genes. She receives numerous letters and cards from well-wishers worldwide, expressing their admiration and wishing her a happy birthday.

Edie, a living legend with over a century of experiences, serves as a source of inspiration for many. As she celebrates another year of life, she is surrounded by love and gratitude from her town and beyond. Happy birthday, Edie!


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