By Anna Mejorada
On Wednesday afternoon, at the corner of 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, a party that has been a century in the making went off without a hitch.
“A hundred years is a very big celebration!” exclaimed Shlomo Katz, the administrator of Amsterdam Nursing Home, where 14 current residents have reached the centennial mark.
In modern fashion, as guests arrived, they were ushered to a COVID self-testing station. The festivities began with a harpist performing classics and cultural favorites, including “Las Mañanitas,” ‘Home On the Range,” and “Hava Nagila.”
Even with a mask on, it was clear Ismael Bruno was smiling as he proudly declared, “I came from Puerto Rico in 1940.” His daughters were by his side, showing pictures of the celebration they recently threw for their father the day he actually turned 100, including cupcakes baked and decorated by his granddaughter, and a lot of scratch-off tickets – his favorite hobby!
“I just moved from Los Angeles,” said Hazel Baptist, 104, who had been living independently on the West Coast and made the move to New York City in May to be closer to her family. Two of her daughters, Vanessa and Marta, were with her at the party. “This is the first social thing she’s been a part of here,” Vanessa said.
At 105, Sylvia Zucker is the oldest of the centenarians. She is a true New Yorker who grew up on the Upper East Side and raised her own family in Manhattan.
Each of the centenarians received a long-stemmed rose and certificate from the office of State Assemblymember Daniel J. O’Donnell, who represents Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights, and the Upper West Side. Finally the crowd joined together to sing, “Happy Birthday.”
The centenarians kept the party going for a little while longer, posing for photographs and sharing their gratitude as slices of cake, sweet treats, and sparkling juices were passed around.