A Downriver resident attempts to toss a flying disc through a hoola hoop at last year’s Senior Olympics. The Allen Park-hosted event takes place Aug. 2 to 6 this year, but the registration deadline is Friday.
By CHRIS JACKETT
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – Just because you’ve gotten older doesn’t mean you can’t be a great athlete, and the 25th annual Downriver Senior Olympics are here to prove it.
From Aug. 2 to 6 athletes over age 50 from 18 different Downriver communities will vie to be the best.
“They wanted to create something both fun and competitive,” said Jennifer Hughes, Allen Park recreation/senior specialist, of the event’s founders. “It’s become a well-oiled machine.”
The Senior Olympics is a chance for Downriver residents to compete in a variety of events, ranging from sports such as swimming, tennis, golf, soccer kick, basketball shoot, softball throw and football throw, to lounge and backyard activities like bowling, billiards, darts, bocce ball, flying disc toss, pingpong, shuffleboard, horseshoes and ring toss. Other activities not likely to make many competitors sweat include baking, cards (euchre, pinochle and/or bridge) and a car show. Other events include ballroom dancing and a 1-mile run.
“There’s no doubt the Olympics are fun,” Hughes said. “It’s a lot of people getting together to compete and have a good time. It’s my favorite week of the year.”
More than 500 Downriver seniors participated last year, and Hughes said she is excited to see what this year brings. Because of the high turnout, the Senior Olympics are broken down into four age groups, ranging from Class A for those ages 50 to 59 through Class D for those ages 80 and older. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded in each event to the top three in each age class.
A $6 one-time registration fee includes a T-shirt and reusable shopping bag. After registering, residents are charged $2 per event, except for bowling and billiards, which cost $5 each, and golf, which costs $8 each due to facility rental fees.
The weeklong event begins with a Breakfast of Champions with Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano Aug. 2 before competitors take to the different event locations.
“Opening day has several hundred people at one location, whereas the other days are more spread out,” Hughes said.
Most of the events are primarily held in Allen Park, although Riverview (bocce ball), Taylor (golf, darts) and Wyandotte (shuffleboard) host select events as well.
Because the seniors are out in the summer heat, some event start times are as early as 7 a.m., while others, such as the car show, start after dinner. Most days’ events will wrap up before 5 p.m., Hughes said.
After a week of competition, medals are awarded at the Unity Bronze finale event noon Aug. 6 at Crystal Gardens Banquet Center in Southgate. Cost to attend is $13.50 per ticket. Those who do not attend to pick up their medals will be allowed to collect them at the Allen Park Parks and Recreation Department the following week.
With so much planning to do before the Downriver Senior Olympics begin, the registration deadline for participants is Friday. Contact the Allen Park Community Center at (313) 928-0770 for more information on events and how to register.
(Contact Chris Jackett at [email protected])