Alice Bertela Orlando

Alice Bertela Orlando turned 100 on March 26 and celebrated with more than 100 family and friends. (Submitted photo / April 22, 2014)

Happy 100th Birthday Alice Bertela Orlando!

"My goal was to have 100 family members and friends at my grandmother's 100th birthday celebration, " said Suzie Mendoza about Alice Bertela Orlando, an Ellicott City resident at Lighthouse Senior Living. 

Mendoza exceeded her goal with 105 people in attendance. No small feat considering she planned the event from her home in Orange County, Calif. 

Although family members currently reside in 11 states throughout the U.S., she managed to assemble eight of Orlando's nine children — Alice Bowman of Ellicott City,  Sally Uraro of Laurel Spring, N.C., Nancy Bazata of Palm Bay, Fla., Peter Orlando  of Hampton Bays, N.Y., Tony Orlando of Crosby, Texas, Salvatore "Teddy" Orlando of Huntsville, Ala., Jack Orlando of Jurupa Valley, Calif., and John Orlando of Rougemont, N.C. (son Joseph passed away in 2009) — at the 100th birthday party held recently at La Palapa Grill and Cantina.  

The party enabled the family matriarch, decked out in "sparkly gold ballet flat shoes and tights," to celebrate her birthday with relatives that now span five generations — 9 children, 33 grandchildren, 61 great grandchildren and 33 great, great grandchildren.  Next month, Orlando's first great, great, great granddaughter will be born, making her the head of a family with six generations of women. 

Orlando was born Alice Bertela on Bleecker Street in New York City, on March 26, 1914, to parents of Italian decent. The centenarian was raised in Long Island, N.Y., where she also raised her 9 children with her late husband Joseph, whom she married in 1929.  While she worked for a time at Glaro Inc. in Hauppauge, Long Island, her granddaughter explained Orlando mostly "remained very busy raising, cooking, cleaning and caring for her children and husband." She did so without a drivers license nor driving a car.  

According to Mendoza, the secret to Orlando's long life is her "stubborn determination and her most-used expression, 'Tell everyone I love them ... even the ones I don't know'."

Cent'anno Alice Orlando! An Italian expression that means wishing you 100 more years. 

With the long, cold winter behind us, it's time to finally enjoy warm weather. To celebrate spring, several local gardening groups are hosting plant and flower sales and a flower show. 

On Saturday, May 3, from 8:30 a.m. until noon, the Cross Country Garden Club will hold its annual plant and bake sale in the parking lot of club member Betty Anne McGinty's business, Key Press, at 9041 Chevrolet Drive, in Ellicott City. 

The sale includes a variety of annuals, perennials, hanging baskets and homemade baked goods.  Proceeds from the fundraiser support the Whipps Cemetery, the Howard County Conservancy, the Ellicott City Health and Rehabilitation Center, HopeWorks (formerly the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County) and Waverly Mansion. For more information, call garden club member Joan Hoye at 410-992-7680

Enjoy the free Howard County Garden Club's "Mother Knows Best" small standard flower show on Friday, May 9, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Ellicott City Senior Center, 9401 Frederick Road, in Ellicott City. A bevy of cut flowers, artfully arranged by garden members, will be on display for club members and the public.  

A favorite among Ellicott City gardeners for its unusual and hard-to-find plants, the Whipps Garden Cemetery annual plant sale is Friday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, May 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the First Lutheran Church, corner of Chatham and Frederick Road in Dunloggin.

The Whipps Garden Cemetery — Ellicott City's only public garden-park, run entirely by volunteers — plant sale will feature many native perennial flowers, including butterfly, shade-loving and deer-resistant plants.  Many of the plants are donated from the gardens of Howard County Master Gardeners. 

The event also features talks on native plants by Anne Roy and attracting butterflies by Betty Walke.  Free compost bins will be available on Saturday.

All proceeds from the annual plant sale are used to maintain the one-acre Whipps Garden park. Volunteers, including student groups and families, are welcome and encouraged to "adopt" a small area to care for. Volunteers work every Thursday from 9 a.m. until noon, weather permitting, March through October.

For more information about the Whipps Garden Cemetery, including volunteer opportunities and events, call Aleta Gravelle at 410-274-7795.