Oak Park, Betty White's hometown, celebrates her 100th birthday after her New Year's Eve death

OAK PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A proper celebration honoring the life of Oak Park's Golden Girl.

Betty White was honored in every fashion Saturday in her hometown. 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," said Karen Pachin. "My dad was raised here so I have an affinity for the community and wanted to celebrate one of its famous residents."
It was a shock for many to see White pass away on New Year's Eve, just about two weeks before she turned 100.

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"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," Nicholls said.

The celebration of life will start at 10 a.m. Saturday with several guest speakers and special events from the local shops in downtown.

The party included many of Betty's favorite things like Red Vines licorice and 100 slices of cake. Several local shops also set up special deals to honor her while cardboard cutouts filled the streets.

"Well, it's from her character, her show: Rose. So we definitely want to do something with that," said Shivangi Khetarpal, owner of Wise Cup. "It is very exciting. We love to be part of the community. Our entire staff is from the area."

Also making an appearance, the vocalist of Betty White's famous show the Golden Girls.

"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 and it's it's amazing and in particular to pay tribute to Betty White is incredible because she embodies what oak Parker's are to me.," said vocalist Cindy Fee.

MORE: Betty White shared her secret to happiness just before her death
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Betty White's secret to longevity? The beloved actress, who is just weeks away from turning 100 years young, joked that she tries "to avoid anything green" in her diet.



Monday, January 17 is of course supposed to be Betty White's 100th birthday and while she unfortunately couldn't make it, she's still getting quite the present. The Illinois Senate announcing January 17 will be an officially known as Betty White Day in Illinois.

"There's a connection there that's sentimental that we can relate to," said fan Don Haraf.

It's a connection that Betty White spent decades building with her fans. Now her legacy lives on forever in her hometown and all across the world.
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