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10 centenarians celebrated with 'Roaring '20s' party at Woodbury center

On Tuesday, Michelle Russo, director of therapeutic recreation at Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Woodbury, spoke about the Roaring 20s party for the facility's centenarians.  (Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)

They lived through the “Roaring '20s,” so the nursing home where they now reside decided to throw the centenarians a collective birthday party with a theme from that memorable decade.

There are 10 of them at the Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Woodbury, men and women who have lived at least a century. One woman is even 105 and one man is 103.

“I feel pretty good,” said Nicholas Bartilucci, a World War II veteran who was born on Sept. 3, 1916.

Asked the secret to his longevity, he said, “My devotion to my God and my family.”

Nursing home staff created a Roaring '20s atmosphere, with black top hats and fake pearl necklaces.

A musical group called Squeaky Clean played songs from throughout the past century.

”People who have been around this long have experienced a lot of wonderful music in their lifetime, and it would be hard to cover it all in one show, “said Glenn Manion, the leader of the band.

Nassau County Legis. Joshua Lafazan showed up to hand out proclamations to the 10 birthday honorees.

“My generation has a great deal to learn about the greatest generation, and the great debt of gratitude that we owe them, “ Lafazan said In an interview.

“It’s amazing they have so much wisdom in one room, “ said Lafazan, who at 25 is the youngest Nassau County legislator.”Quite frankly, at 25, any opportunity I have to spend time with people who have been on this Earth four times as long as I have is something I cherish and appreciate deeply. “

He later told the crowd, most of them in wheelchairs, that “we owe a colossal debt of gratitude to your generation, the greatest generation.”

Thanks to them, he said, “my generation has grown up in a period of prosperity, we’ve grown up in a period of safety, and quite frankly we grew up in the greatest place on Earth right here on Long Island.”

Nursing home staff passed out fliers noting that back in 1920, Woodrow Wilson was the U.S. president. During the '20s, a postage stamp cost 2 cents, a gallon of gas was 25 cents, and a half gallon of milk cost 28 cents.

The average net income was about $3,300 a year, and popular singers included Al Jolson and Mamie Smith.

Michelle Russo, who organized the event at the nursing home, said “It’s so nostalgic for them. It reminds them of their childhood and things that they like to do and things that they grew up with.”

“I like to bring a little piece of their world into their home here,” she said.

Bartilucci said he was pleased with the event, and amazed with some of the things he had lived through.

During World War II he served in England, North Africa and Italy, he said. “It was rough.”

He said 2020 “will be a good year.”

”It’s a wonderful world, “he said. “These youngsters have so many opportunities.”

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