Woman celebrates 100th birthday at LaPlace zip line course

Published 4:25 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2022

LAPLACE — A daredevil at heart, Angela Johnson celebrated her 100th birthday doing something that many people half her age would shy away from.

Johnson became one of the oldest people in the world to ride a zip line this past Saturday as she soared above the cypress swamps at ZipNOLA in LaPlace. She was surrounded by four generations of family as she celebrated 100 years of living life to its fullest.

Granddaughter Tasia Denapolis said Johnson broke a world record more than six years ago when she embarked on her first zip line adventure at age 93 during a trip to Gatlinburg. While Guinness couldn’t enter the record without video footage, Johnson loved every minute and was excited to experience the zip line again.

“She is a super risk-taker,” Denapolis said. “She’s been white water rafting. She was a USO girl, and that’s where she met my grandpa. She’s a wild woman who will try anything, and she said her regret in life is never having kayaked off a waterfall.”

A resident of New Orleans for nearly 80 years, Johnson was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts on June 28, 1922. She initially planned to celebrate her 100th birthday at ZipNOLA on July 2 before coming down with COVID-19. She quickly conquered the illness and was ready to take on the world’s first aquatic zip line just two weeks later.

“It’s wonderful. After you get past the initial shock of jumping in mid-air, it’s a cinch,” Johnson said.

The ZipNOLA course wasn’t perched high above the mountains like the zip line she rode in Gatlinburg, but there were still beautiful sights to be seen.

Dressed in a sunhat and custom “Zip Johnson” shoes painted by her great-granddaughter, Johnson strapped on her gear and accompanied her family up a tall spiral staircase before taking a leap of faith.

“It was exciting. Scenic. In Gatlinburg, there were mountains under us. Here, we have water under us,” Johnson said.

Being six years older now compared to last time had no impact on the experience.

“It’s the same,” she explained.

“You just need that ‘oomph’ to get past the first one. Once you do that, you’re OK.”

Johnson’s 100th birthday celebration is the latest installment in her adventurous life. Near the end of World War II, she performed across the South Pacific as a singer in the USO (United Service Organizations). With tensions high from the war, Johnson would often carry .25 handgun on her lap in case the enemy came down from the mountains and attacked.

Johnson was performing in Honolulu when she met her husband. The two quickly fell in love and were married only six months later.

Johnson now has two daughters, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren who stood by her side as she embarked on her 100th birthday zip.

Tyler Richardson, co-owner of ZipNOLA in LaPlace, said Johnson serves as an inspiration to others.

“We were extremely excited. I think it’s a great thing because we get a lot of seniors who come out here, and they are extremely apprehensive because of their age,” Richardson said. “I tell them age is just a number. If you can climb the stairs, you can zip line. Many of them see it as a bucket list activity.”

The jury’s still out on how Johnson will celebrate her 101st birthday next year.

“Oh, who knows,” she said. “I’ll think of something.”