SUN CITY CENTER – South Bay Hospital hosted the celebration of a lifetime for 31 of the area's most senior seniors at its recent Centenarian Birthday Party at Community Hall. Organizers hoped to break a Guiness World Record for the largest gathering of centenarians but their plan was dashed when 39 attended Suncoast Hospice's fifth annual Celebration of Life party in Clearwater on May 1.
As the honorees entered the hall, they were greeted to a colorful collage of balloons and tablecloths in alternating shades of red, yellow, green and blue. Miniature birthday cakes were placed at each setting for the honorees to take home. Family members watched photographers snap photos as flash bulbs went off every few seconds. It was an afternoon of celebrity for the honorees.
Arabella Arnold, 103, wore a fashionable, sequined floral dress, black shawl and black feathered hat. She hesitated to attend the affair, because she doesn't like to share her age. Arnold was born in 1910 in Clendenin, W.Va., and lived her life on the advice of her mother – that you can shorten or lengthen your life by doing God's will.
“She would give this advice to young people today,” Arnold added. “Always keep good records and don't tell your age.”
Master of Ceremonies Steve Overton read out the names of the honorees and provided biographical information as their photos were shown on a large overhead screen. He also read a humorous quote from each.
The event was also sponsored by the American Momentum Bank and the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.
Freelancer Felix Martinez contributed to this report.