ZEPHYRHILLS — Ann Babbitt celebrated her 80th birthday in style last week by taking a tandem sky dive at Skydive City in Zephyrhills.
Babbitt, who turned 80 July 15, said she was not following the lead of former President George H.W. Bush, who marked his 90th birthday by sky diving. She had already scheduled her jump for Saturday before Bush’s last month.
Babbitt, a native of Buffalo, New York, works in the administrative office of East Pasco Meals On Wheels in Zephyrhills. She began there 15 years ago as a volunteer driver and has worked in the office for eight years.
She said sky diving was on her bucket list.
“I’ve heard about it. I’ve seen them and I’ve watched them and I just thought it would be fun,” she said.
“I had a bucket list,” she said. “I had three things on it. One, I wanted to go up in a hot air balloon. This (sky dive) is the next one. Third, I want a tattoo,” she said, laughing.
“Just a little one,” she said, pointing to her shoulder. “I want just a little butterfly on my shoulder. My husband (her late husband, Albert) said he was going to come back and haunt me as a butterfly, and I’ve seen all sorts of butterflies around, and I never know if one of them is him, so I thought I’ll put him up here.”
Babbitt took her hot air balloon ride about a month ago in Land O’ Lakes. “It was so peaceful,” she said.
Babbitt said she felt no trepidation as she prepared to go up for her sky dive. “I think I’ll feel very free,” she said prior to the jump. “Of course, there’s going to be somebody hooked on to me, but … .”
Babbitt jumped with veteran sky diver Erik Roden of Polk City. A group of friends watched as she floated to Earth.
She wasn’t disappointed. After her jump, a smiling Babbitt told everyone that it felt wonderful.
“I felt free and light and it was beautiful,” she said.