More than 150 people gathered on the afternoon of Saturday, June 1, to honor local nonagenarians at Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club’s “Eat, Drink and Be Ninety” annual birthday celebration.
“It makes me so happy to see all the people at this event,” PPWC Director Fay Vahdani told the Palisadian-Post. “It melts my heart.”
Vahdani explained that the event has expanded in recent years—and this year even saw 15 new 90 year olds join the fray of celebrants.
“I look forward to doing this every year,” Vahdani said. “Seeing the families with their children get all dressed up, it’s amazing. It’s a group effort—no one person could do this by themselves. It’s all done by Woman’s Club members. They cook, clean, setup—they do everything. Each year is better than the last.”
The event began in 1996 in former Woman’s Club President Dr. Margaret Jones-Kanaar’s backyard on Via De La Paz after she had just turned 92. Jones-Kanaar organized a huge birthday celebration, which all the town’s 90 year olds attended, as well as then-Honorary Mayor Eddie Albert.
At this year’s event, Vahdani and PPWC Vice President Gina Jakel opened with a warm welcome before lunch was served.
Retros Music Band provided the toe-tapping tunes that had attendees getting out of their chairs to dance. Professional salsa dancer Crizam Carlos also led a step-by-step routine, which had Honorary Co-Mayors Billy and Janice Crystal grooving.
“This is our favorite event to be at,” Billy Crystal told the Post with a smile in between bites of frozen yogurt.
Featured speaker Bill Bruns gave remarks about the history of the event, thanking the Crystals, Vahdani and her co-chairs, Julia Winter and Josie Tong, for their dedication.
“The Woman’s Club was founded in 1926 and is the oldest surviving organization in our town,” Bruns shared. “Does anybody remember the club motto? ‘Let something good be said.’ That’s a good reminder for all of us on social media.”
As per tradition, Bruns revisited what the Palisades was like 90 years ago, in 1929.
“Pacific Palisades was founded in 1922—but even by 1929, the town consisted of only about 225 homes—just 1,000 residents—so this was indeed a small town way out on the edge of Los Angeles,” Bruns said.
The oldest female this year was Anne Lewis, aged 100. The Post asked Lewis what advice she had to give the younger generation.
“Always be conscious of yourself and others,” Lewis said. “Be kind. Live in the moment and do not let it pass you by.”
The oldest males this year were Richard Littlestone, aged 96, and Fred Baskin, aged 95. Youngest females were Marian Faigon, aged 90, and Doris Littlestone (wife of Richard) aged 90.
Youngest males went to three 90 year olds, Robert Thurm, Ralph Wilcox, and Charles Wilson, who shared that he was one of the first African Americans to live in the Palisades.
“I can say something we ought to do for our generation: become active and remain flexible,” Wilson told the Post at the event. “Healthcare is not something you wait until people are in bed to do something for.”
In keeping with tradition, the oldest male, Richard, and female, Lewis, were crowned king and queen of this year’s 90th birthday party, graciously receiving their rightful adulation.
After the crowning, the entire room, with cake on their plates, joined together for a sing-along of “Happy Birthday.”