WILLITS, 1/5/23 — Willits residents have gathered to celebrate Edie Ceccarelli’s birthday for many years, and this past week, just a month before her 115th year begins, Edie became not just California’s oldest resident, but the oldest person in the nation, after the death of Bessie Laurena Hendricks, of Lake City, Iowa, who was 115 years old.
In Willits, her hometown, Edie’s birthday has been a newsworthy event for at least a decade, with more recent years drawing photographers from around the region. Before the pandemic, a community celebration was held at the Hurrah Senior Center or at a local restaurant in Willits, and for the last several years, a community parade has taken place, with many drivers in decorated vehicles waving and honking their birthday celebrations as Edie watched from her porch. In 2020, family members collected birthday cards from the community in lieu of the previous in-person parties.
Edie’s 115th birthday will take place on February 5, and the next “drive by parade” is scheduled for 1 p.m. that day. We’ll keep you posted on the details of the community celebration plans. You can check out the video from last year’s celebration here, put together by the Howard Foundation.