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Desk Clerk Still Going Strong At New Cannan YMCA At 103

Dante Chicatell, 103, works part-time at the New Canaan YMCA. He is shown here at a Y birthday bash when he turned 100.
Dante Chicatell, 103, works part-time at the New Canaan YMCA. He is shown here at a Y birthday bash when he turned 100. Photo Credit: New Canaan YMCA website

NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- The slippery roads and harsh temperatures did not prevent Dante Chicatell from arriving in time for his Friday morning shift as desk greeter at the New Canaan YMCA. It would hardly seem extraordinary — except that the Darien resident is 103.

The roads weren't bad, Chicatell told Daily Voice. "You have to go slow but they're fine," he said.

He quickly confirmed his age in an interview and shared these tips for staying healthy: "Good eating, a little drinking, no smoking, be happy and keep smiling."

The job, which involves checking membership IDs, making sure they are up to date and giving information, was "a new career" for Chicatell when he started there part-time 16 years ago.

"I had a gas station and fuel oil business until I retired in 1985," he says.

Working at the Y, he said, has enabled him to make many friends and get to know a lot of people, many by first name, especially longtime members. The social aspect is a highlight for this self-described outgoing man.

"I like to mingle in with other people." He also likes being around fitness.

"Being here is enjoyable. I like sports. I played football and basketball when I grew up in Stamford."

He doesn't intend on retiring again and wants to continue working there "for as long as I can," Chicatell said.

When he turned 100, the YMCA staff gave a big centennial party, he said.

"They put on a show. They all got together and did a dance routine," he said referring to a flash mob dance to the Frank Sinatra song "Tangerine."

"Then all the (staff) from different departments came out and sang, 'Happy Birthday,'"  he said.

Hundreds of visitors stopped into the Y that day, Chicatell recalled.

"Then they had a party for  birthday number two, then number three. But 100 was the big one." He turned 103 on Nov. 24.

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