Bristol man celebrates 109th birthday on Fourth of July

Published: Jul. 4, 2020 at 6:54 PM EDT
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If you heard sirens blaring in Bristol around noon on July 4th, that’s because the town was celebrating Bill James’s 109th birthday.

Emergency vehicles lead the parade in front of James’s house.

Every Independence Day, James leads the parade throughout town. But as he grows older, he's opted not to participate.

James’s granddaughter, Joelle Muggeo, says he was the grand master of the parade until two years ago.

“It was pretty hot and he was in the back of a triumph from the beginning of the parade until the end. It really was particularly hot and it took a lot out of him,” Muggeo said.

Since James couldn’t be in the parade, the town brought the parade to him, as well as the birthday party.

Friends and neighbors drove by and honked their horns. Some hung birthday signs out of the window. A few people brought gifts with them. A member of the Bristol Rescue Squad got out of his truck to deliver a teddy bear to James.

James worked at the Bristol Rescue Squad for 5 years.

“The last three of it, I was a driver,” he said. “They wanted a good driver, so they picked me!”

James’s family says it was the perfect surprise.

“This was good. He didn’t have to walk very far. I think part of it was it was unexpected,” Muggeo said. “We didn’t really tell him there was a lot going on. We just told him he had something to do between ten and noon and this was— again, he got very emotional when we told him what was going to happen.”

In case you’re wondering what James's tip is to living to 109, it's maintaining healthy habits, having a cat and being kind to others.

James told WCAX News his favorite president was John F. Kennedy and his favorite car is a mustang. He also loves his cat, Buddy.