Not too long ago, Lonny Fried's achievement would have dropped jaws. Television and newspaper reporters would have showed up at her door. She would have been fussed over and given a big party.
But turning 100 isn't such a big deal anymore.
The nation's population of centenarians -- already the largest in the world -- has roughly doubled in the past 20 years to around 72,000 and is projected to at least double again by 2020, perhaps even increase seven-fold, according to the Census Bureau.
Fried will turn 100 Friday. Her retirement community, Edgewater Pointe Estates in Boca Raton, observed her birthday two weeks ahead of time with other residents born in April.
"In the '80s, we'd make a big deal about it by calling Willard Scott on TV to make that huge announcement," Diana Ferguson, who has worked at Edgewater for 25 years, said of the "Today" show weatherman known for his on-air birthday wishes to viewers who hit the century mark. "But today we have so many residents turning 100-plus that it's not as big a deal." Fried doesn't mind at all. Simply making it to 100, she said, is enough.
"I don't want any celebration or nothing," she said.
Born in Germany, she lost her first husband in the Holocaust and was herself held at the Westerbork concentration camp before coming to the United States. She takes no medication, moves around steadily with a walker and said she has been fulfilled by a life in which she found a second love, raised a family and worked as a nurse.
"I still don't believe it," she said.
The Census Bureau estimates the nation had 71,991 centenarians as of Dec. 1, up from 37,306 two decades earlier. While predicting longevity and population growth is difficult, the bureau's low-end estimate for 2050 is 265,000 centenarians; its highest projection puts the number at 4.2 million.
"They have been the fastest-growing segment of our population in terms of age," said Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University.
Perls attributed the rise in 100-year-olds largely to better medical care and the dramatic drop in childhood-mortality rates since the early 1900s. Centenarians also have good genes on their side, he said, and have made common-sense health decisions, such as not smoking and keeping their weight down.
"It's very clearly a combination of genes and environment," Perls said.
Lynn Peters Adler, a former lawyer who founded and runs the National Centenarian Awareness Project, said that in her 25 years of contact with centenarians, she has culled some similarities among them:
* A positive but realistic attitude.
* Love of life and sense of humor.
* A remarkable ability to accept the losses that come with age but not be stopped by them.