TOWAMENCIN >> Famed Hollywood screenwriter Frank Howard Clark once observed that “We’ve put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it,” but then again, he never saw Montgomery County throw a shindig for its centenarian residents.
On Wednesday, 56 of the county’s roughly 450 people who are 100 or more years old — or who will be celebrating their 100th birthday at some point in 2017 — were among nearly 200 people smiling, eating, partying and singing in a Dock Woods ballroom during the 8th annual Montgomery County Centenarian Celebration.
“We are here to celebrate life, and everything that can happen in 100 years,” said Karen Barsottini, an eldercare professional and member of the event’s Steering Committee who helped organize the festivities. “We came together as a volunteer group along with the county, and we just do this again and again. It’s such a joy to do this.”
“Singing Dean” Garofalo, a well-known area Elvis impersonator, left his sequined jumpsuit at home and instead crooned Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin tunes for the delighted guests, making his way through the crowd and letting some of the centenarians share the mic to belt out a few lyrics.
Many of the honorees had advice for making it to 100. According to Marty Cohen, “The key to a happy and long life is a lot of luck, not smoking and overall just living a happy and normal life,” while Fern Harper’s secret is to “treat people right and be nice to other people the way you want them to be nice to you.”
As Montgomery County Commissioners Val Arkoosh, Joe Gale and Ken Lawrence, Jr. moved through the crowd shaking hands and chatting with guests, and offering their congratulations, one honoree was overheard saying, while pointing heavenward, that the secret to her long life was that “they can’t handle me up there just yet!”
Then it was time for cake. “The hell with what my doctor thinks,” said one man as he eyed his dessert plate, “I’m eating the whole thing.”