BARNEGAT, NJ — Centenarian Rose Cordasco lives on a quiet cul-de-sac west of the Parkway in the Pheasant Run retirement community. The last thing she expected this afternoon was the blaring of horns outside her home.

Then, someone important looking came walking toward the garage door where she sat outside.

Barnegat Mayor Al Bille and his wife, Nancy, were armed with a plaque honoring Rose’s impressive milestone birthday. They also presented the well-coiffed woman with a colorful bouquet of roses.

Rose was born on February 27, 1921.  Her neighbors decided they weren’t going to let the pandemic dampen the celebration of her 100th birthday.

A Barnegat police car led a parade of cars draped with signs and shouts of well wishes. Someone baked Cordasco a cake, while others presented her with gifts, flowers and balloons.

Barnegat Patrolman Tim Bradshaw, the area’s assigned community police officer, made sure to offer his own personal celebratory greetings as well. Everyone joined in a chorus to sing happy birthday to Cordasco, who seemed to really enjoy the special attention.

The aftermath of Superstorm Sandy brought Cordasco to live with her daughter and son-in-law in Barnegat. Janet and Stephen Andricsak say she insists on maintaining her independence.

“She’s up every morning and makes her own bed,” shared Janet. “She’s a phenomenal cook and doesn’t mince words if I’m not making a recipe the way she thinks it needs to be done.”

Cordasco takes particular pride in her personal appearance. Amid the pandemic, she rarely leaves the house. Yet, she still makes sure her hair looks exactly right — even though she’s just staying home.

Originally from Newark, — came from a family of 12 siblings. Two died before she was born. Of the six remaining brothers and sisters, she is the oldest and the youngest is 86.

When Cordasco was in her early 20s, she climbed the steps to enter an almost empty bus. The bus driver began flirting with Cordasco and invited her to sit up front. Apparently smitten, he only got up the nerve to ask her on a date when she showed up on his bus a second time.

 Ralph and Rose Cordasco courted for only five or six months before they married in 1943. Ralph’s passing in 1970 created a void in Rose’s life.

“My mother had no interest in remarrying,” Janet Andricsak said. “She always said my father was too good to find a replica of and she was content on her own.”

Andricsak is the couple’s only child together, although Cordasco considers stepson Anthony as her own. He lives in Texas. She has four grandchildren and three greats.

The winter cold finds Cordasco watching television and keeping track of current events in newspapers and magazines. Andricsak said her mom can’t wait for it to warm up, so she can sit outside and wave to people as they pass in their cars. And there’s no doubt she’ll be out strolling the neighborhood.

“There’s been times when I’ve been inside thinking my mom was sitting out front,” shared Andricsak. “Only to find out she decided to take a walk.”

Cordasco has a mind of her own and dismisses any suggestions that maybe she shouldn’t venture out without someone to catch her in case she falls. Andricsak shared her concerns with the family doctor, including her mother’s stubborn refusal to use her cane.

“Why would I use it,” Cordasco said to the doctor. “It’s for old people.”

According to Andricsak,  the secret to her mother reaching centenary status is as simple as eating heaps of fresh vegetables, as well as lots of garlic and olive oil.

A recipe for longevity that’s done well for lovely Rose Cordasco as she celebrates 100 years young.