America’s oldest living person celebrates 116th trip around the sun

In California, there’s a lady who’s the oldest person living in the United States and the second oldest in the whole world. She just had a birthday on February 5th. Edith “Edie” Recagno Keenan Ceccarelli turned 116 years old that day, and this was confirmed by a group that studies very old people called the Gerontology Research Group.

Even though it was raining and windy in Northern California, the town of Willits, where Edie was born and still lives, threw a big birthday party for her. Evelyn Perisco, who spoke to KTXL, said that even though the weather was bad, lots of people came to celebrate. They had a parade led by the town’s police and fire officials, with lots of honking, waving, and cheering from people in their cars.

Evelyn has been friends with Edie since she was 100 years old. She married into Edie’s family; her husband, Lee, and his brother, Charles, are Edie’s second cousins. Celebrating Edie’s birthday has become a special event in the town over the last few years.

Willits, where all this happened, is a small town with about 4,988 people. It’s pretty far from Sacramento, about 160 miles to the northwest.

Edie was born on February 5, 1908. She’s the second oldest person in the world, right after Maria Branyas from Spain, who is also 116 but a few months older. Edie got her last names from her husbands; she was married twice. She’s lived in California all her life, moving around places in the northern part of the state. She was the oldest of seven kids and has outlived all her brothers and sisters.

When Edie was born, Theodore Roosevelt was the president, and a famous baseball player named Babe Ruth hadn’t even started playing in the major leagues yet. She was just a kid when the first World War started, and they didn’t even sell sliced bread until she was 20. The NFL, a big football league, started when she was about 12, and the oldest NBA team, the Sacramento Kings, was founded three years after that.

Sometimes, Edie wonders why she’s lived so long, especially when many people she knew have passed away. Evelyn tells her, “Edie, God has a plan for you. There’s a reason you’re still here.”