WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- You know it's a party when the mayor of White Plains shows up.
"Ben's wit is as sharp as ever," said Mayor Thomas Roach of White Plains resident -- and birthday guest of honor -- Benjamin Vinokur. "He told me upon my arrival, 'The big cheese is here.'"
In reality, though, all eyes were on Vinokur, who turned 102 on Friday surrounded by family, friends and fellow residents of The Bristal at White Plains, an assisted living community.
Mayor Roach was among the 30-plus guests there to honor Vinokur, who, until just a few months ago, lived on his own in his Eastchester house.
Vinokur, who for years worked and lived in Mount Vernon as a plumber (60 years!), was born in Brooklyn on March 6, 1913, two days after the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson.
As a youth, he played a host of sports including boxing at the Mount Vernon YMHA where he went by the nickname, "jabber." He also once swam across the Hudson River from Yonkers.
Asked the secret to longevity, Vinokur answered, "A clean life. And keep active." (He didn't retire until age 80.)
His daughters, Eileen Goodman, of Delray Beach, Fla., and Beverly Cheikin of Rye Brook, said they both feel blessed and are amazed at their dad's stamina. Granddaughter Jennifer Frank of Westport, Conn., added that it's been amazing to see the relationship her grandfather has with her three children, ages 7, 11 and 13. The younger two were on hand for the celebration.
Vinokur has four grandchildren, including one in Scarsdale, and 10 great-grandchildren, ranging in age from 4 to 21.
"I haven't the words to express how happy I am today," said Vinokur after the mayor issued him a proclamation. 'I just hope there's enough food for everyone to eat." (There was.)
Roach told the crowd, "I hope to see you all here next year for 103."
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