NEW PALTZ, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A New Paltz woman celebrated a century while dancing the merengue. Romanita Cruz received the fiesta she deserved this week from her beloved caretakers at New Paltz Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing. 

The smiling birthday girl wheeled out of the front doors of her home with her arms stretched out, waving to her party guests. It was a grand entrance ideally suited for a 100th birthday party.

Cruz was born on August 1st, 1922, in Puerto Rico. She came to America in 1939 at just 17 years old but still holds on to her culture and memories from her homeland. On Monday, the staff threw her a giant celebration with a catered lunch, colorful decorations, and, most notably to Cruz, the music she knows and loves.

“Baila, Mami, baila,” a staff member cheered as Cruz danced to the sounds of an old merengue tune with the help of two other staffers. Romanita still has the moves and remembers the lyrics to many of her favorite songs.

At the party, Cruz was surrounded by friends, fellow residents, staff, and even some local dignitaries. The Mayor of the Village of New Paltz, Tim Rogers, presented her with a certificate from the Ulster County Legislature and recognized Romanita as the “Pride of Ulster County.”

Cruz was thrilled by the celebration and happy to sit back and listen to the sounds of her native language. At one point, the song “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás” (Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps in the English version) played over the speakers, and she sang each word without hesitation.

The staff at the New Paltz Center is family for Romanita and has been by her side for 20 years and counting. A representative for the center, Jeffrey Jacomowitz, said Romanita is well loved and that may be her secret to a long and happy life.