Century of the Golden Girl: Oak Park Hosts “Betty White Day”

     Have you ever wondered what Oak Park was like 100 years ago? Well, Betty White didn’t have to. As many of us were preparing to ring in the new year on December 31, 2021, we were all shocked and saddened to hear about the news that Betty White, a beloved Hollywood actress and comedian who lived to age 99, had died, missing her 100th birthday by only two weeks. 

     While she was best known for the many movies and TV shows she appeared in like The Golden Girls, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Proposal, Betty White was also our hometown girl, born in Oak Park, Illinois in January 1922. She lived with her family on the third floor of an apartment building at 218 Pleasant Street, a few blocks away from Fenwick High School. When she was a little over a year old, she moved with her family to Southern California. 

     After her death in December, Oak Park threw a “Be Like Betty” Centennial Celebration party under the marquee of the Classic Cinemas Lake Theatre on January 15, 2022, two days before her 100th birthday. The party in White’s birthplace consisted of many things in her honor. There were her favorite Red Vines licorice, a one hundred piece cake provided by Turano Baking Company, and some fans even created art of her. A large balloon sign on the sidewalk read “Thank You for Being a Friend,” and some shops in town held special deals to celebrate Oak Park’s Golden Girl. Oak Park Village President, Vicki Scaman, also shared words of memorial with the crowd commemorating the star’s life. 

     The animal lovers that were present took part in a pet adoption event, fulfilled by Oak Park’s own Animal Care League, at the Byline Bank Lobby across from the theater. Many knew Betty White for her great devotion to animals, another one of her legacies.

     The vocalist Cindy Fee, who sang the Golden Girls hit song, also paid a visit to Oak Park for the party. Fee remarked: “To pay tribute to Betty White is incredible because she embodies what Oak Park-ers are to me.”