Anna Bellina was invited to join longtime friends and some new acquaintances in a party at the on Wednesday to celebrate a very special occasion—her 100th birthday.
Mrs. Bellina, who still lives in her own Basking Ridge condominium along with a family member, said she was very happy to be the center of attention at the party.
"I was shocked," she said of the gala celebration her daughter had only told her about on that morning.
"She was kind of surprised, which was nice," said her daughter, Sandra Arace, who lives in the Millington section of Long Hill Township. Bellina had been invited to celebrate her birthday by two of the center's employees, Elyse Rufalo and Brenda Onilian, who knew she was about to turn 100.
Bellina was born on July 22, 1911. The family already gathered last Friday for a 100th birthday party, the day that Bellina actually turned 100.
"Today is in addition to that, which is wonderful," her daughter said.
Bellina was sung to and greeted by friends she had known when she and her late husband, Frank Bellina, had previously belonged to the senior center when it was located in Bernardsville.
"She's a great person," said one of those friends, Jean Buck, of Bernardsville. "I think she's nice to be with—that's the best way to explain it."
On the other hand, Barbara Davlouros, who became one of the guests at the party when she showed up at the wellness center, said she had never met Bellina.
Nevertheless, Davlouros said she feels the 100-year-old—who still walks around with a cane, and her daughter says enjoys being with family members—was truly an inspiration.
"I wish her many, many more, and health and happiness," she said of the guest of honor.
One of Bellina's friends, Addie Roche, of Basking Ridge, credited at least part of her friend's longevity to the ballroom dancing she had enjoyed with her husband.
"Her and my father were great dancers," Arace agreed.
But she said she felt the true secret to her mother's long life was staying busy, both in her home and helping others at her church and at an orphanage. The Bellinas lived most of their lives in East Orange, and only moved to Basking Ridge about four years ago, Arace said.
"She was very strong-willed, she knew what she wanted and worked hard," her daughter said.
As she got her mother a cup of coffee, Arace said other than having a little arthritis, and being rather hard of hearing and vision, "she's doing good."
Even now, Arace said, her mother wouldn't even think about leaving her own home.
One of Bellina's friends, Emily Kinkley, of Basking Ridge, who was sitting by her side as the cake was presented to the guest of honor, said the best part of the party was that it felt good to be together and see Bellina celebrate.
Bellina said she hopes to return for another birthday party next year.
Editor's note: Anna Bellina's daughter said her mother had always wanted to be on television for her 100th birthday. We hope she will be happy with this video on the Basking Ridge Patch.