109-year-old celebrates with the birthday parade of a lifetime

Mary Ruggiero Leonardi's most recent birthday was quite unlike the 108 before it.

"I don't believe this is happening," she said. "It's like a dream."


A caravan of cars drove by to wish her a happy birthday in July at Seacrest Village assisted living facility.

For her to think of another time with such circumstances as the COVID-19 pandemic, she'd have to think back a century.


She was 7 when the 1918 H1N1 pandemic, also known as the Spanish Flu, ravaged the world.

By this age, she had already lost her sister, brother, and father to conditions like meningitis. While she doesn't remember anyone in her family getting sick from H1N1, she does remember the economic starvation brought on by the Great Depression.