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Betty White’s hometown celebrates her 100th birthday

Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 1:54 AM EST
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OAK PARK, Ill. (WLS) - Fans in Betty White’s hometown celebrated her life just before what would have been her 100th birthday with her favorite things, including red licorice and pet adoptions.

White was honored in every fashion Saturday in her hometown of Oak Park, Illinois. Not even the cold temperatures could stop people from gathering in the heart of downtown

“I’m a big fan of Betty White and Oak Park,” Karen Pachin said. “My dad was born and raised here, so I have an affinity for the community and wanted to celebrate one of its famous residents.”

Betty White was born Jan. 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois. Fans in her hometown celebrated the...
Betty White was born Jan. 17, 1922, in Oak Park, Illinois. Fans in her hometown celebrated the actress in a party honoring what would have been her 100th birthday.(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

It was a shock for many to see White pass away on New Year’s Eve, just about two weeks before she turned 100. Her cause of death, provided by her doctor, was a stroke she suffered Christmas Day, according to the Associated Press.

“I thought of a Betty White quote that I heard long ago that she said, ‘You can’t become a professional mourner.’ And with that, I thought we are still moving forward, and it’s gonna be great,” said Oak Park resident, Lourdes Nicholls.

The celebration of life featured many of White’s favorite things, like Red Vines licorice and 100 slices of cake. Cardboard cutouts of her and Rose, her character from “The Golden Girls,” filled the streets. Some were offering pet adoptions to honor White, a lifelong animal rights activist.

Vocalist Cindy Fee, who sang “The Golden Girls” theme song, was among those who attended the party.

“When I first did the show, I had no idea what it was about or who it was about, and look at the longevity it’s had, you know. It’s amazing. And in particular, to pay tribute to Betty White is incredible because she embodies what Oak Parkers are to me,” Fee said.

While White unfortunately couldn’t make it to her 100th birthday, she still got quite the present, with the Illinois Senate naming Jan. 17, 2022, as Betty White Day in the state.

“There’s a connection there that’s sentimental that we can relate to,” said White fan Don Haraf.

White spent decades building that connection with her fans. Now, her legacy lives on forever in her hometown and all across the world.

Copyright 2022 WLS via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved. Gray News contributed to this report.