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Rockville Centre woman celebrates 100th birthday

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Freda Mereson turned 100 last week, a milestone that was marked with a celebratory car parade down Pine Street. Her home was decorated with lawn signs and balloons, and a group of family, friends and neighbors cheered as the cars drove by to wish her well on Friday afternoon.

When asked what the secret to her longevity is, Mereson replied: “Good friends.”

That was evident on her birthday, as the group included former coworkers from South Side High School, where Mereson worked in the attendance office for more than 35 years. Debbie Harty said she worked alongside her for 26 years and they shared a lot of laughs. She also described her as artistic and a lover of nature.

“She wrote a story about the mockingbirds and their songs, and it was published in the Times,” Harty said. “She was very proud of that.”

Mike Davy, a former dean of students and retired physical education teacher from the high school, noted how she is always amazed by the small miracles of nature.

“She always leaves food for the birds,” he said, “and she’s a beautiful painter.”

Mereson has lived in Rockville Centre since 1955, where she and her husband raised two daughters. Her nephew Josh Klein grew up just blocks away and came from Manhattan for her celebration. He said she was like a second mother to him.

Neighbor Lisa Vitale has lived next door for 15 years and has been friends since day one. Typically, Vitale said, Mereson “lays low” on her birthday, though she said last year, they gave her a cake with 100 candles on it.

“We almost burned the house down because the candles wouldn’t go out,” Vitale said. “It was quite hilarious, but she had a good day.”