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World War II veteran celebrates 100th birthday with surprise drive-by parade

'Big, big, surprise,' Raymond D'Allesandro says
Posted at 6:58 PM, Nov 21, 2020

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — A World War II Army veteran is celebrating a once-in-a-lifetime milestone -- his 100th birthday.

"Big, big, surprise," Raymond D'Allesandro said.

Several friends, family members and complete strangers lined up Saturday for a socially distanced drive-by birthday parade for D'Allesandro.

"It's a big honor today," D'Allesandro said.

D'Allesandro moved to New York from Italy at the age of 16 to build a better life.

He served in Algeria during World War II as a sergeant before moving back to the United States to work on railroads.

"It really took me back," Carol D'Allesandro, his youngest daughter, said. "People I don't even know, when they heard his story, that he was a vet, were just calling and texting and they were saying, 'We want to be a part of it.'"

At the parade were motorcycles, cars and even a Humvee.

"He always said, 'I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to be 100. I'm going to make it to 100,'" Carol D'Allesandro said.

So what's his secret?

"Eat whatever you want," D'Allesandro said. "That's what I did."

Carol said when her father saw the parade, he told her it will be a celebration that he remembers for the rest of his life.

"I thought it was wonderful, really wonderful," he said.