Friends for 30-years, birthday boy Jesse Castro gets a hug from Sam Waldron between bites of birthday cake during a party Saturday, February 9, 2013 in Walla Walla, WA. to celebrate his 50th birthday that was on December 26, 2012. Castro, developmentally disabled, can often be found waving at cars from his bicycle and trailer on street corners throughout Walla Walla and is widely known for his joy of life.
Photo by Matthew Zimmerman Banderas.
WALLA WALLA — A local man known for his enthusiastic smile and eagerness to carry groceries celebrated his 50th birthday Saturday, along with a couple hundred people who call Jesse Castro their friend.
“I think he was surprised by how many people came. When we told him we were going to hold a party, I think he just thought a few people,” event organizer Liz Pierce said.
Though the birthday was celebrated more than six weeks late, that didn’t matter to Castro, as guest after guest and smile after smile filled the Stone Hut Bar & Grill from 3-6 p.m.
“When I looked at 6 (p,m.), there were still people coming in,” Pierce said, adding the idea for the party was an offshoot of another project.
As the administrator for the “My Town Walla Walla Washington” Facebook page, in early January Pierce was trying to come up with an uplifting photo for the site when she saw Castro riding by.
“I was trying to think of a really happy thought, something happy in Walla Walla. And I saw Jesse that day. And as he went by, he waved and smiled. And I thought there is a happy thought,” Pierce said.
Within a few hours of posting Castro’s photo, Pierce said the site grew from 70 to 800 fans, and numerous comments were added.
A few of those comments shared how Castro had turned 50 on Dec. 26, which inspired Pierce to organize the event.