Senior ‘happy’ about return to in-person activities
Now that things are beginning to open up and normalize with the vaccines becoming more and more available, some residents are looking to get out and have some much-needed fun.
With some restrictions still in place, Owatonna Park and Rec provides just that for area seniors. Some of the activities include bingo, billiards, yoga, weight training, and Bunco. All of the activities are held at the West Hills in Owatonna.
Pat Lee, who has been participating in bingo since 2005, is happy to be able to return to in-person activities. “When COVID happened, we were closed so we did bingo at the park,” Lee said. “At first, we could only have 10 people back but now we can have 15.”
While participation remains limited due to restrictions, Lee looks forward to when they can be back to pre-COVID numbers. “Right now, we’re playing for gift cards but when we have more people, we can play for money.”
“I love calling. I love being around older people,” Lee, who is 69 and relatively young amongst this crowd, said. “I participate in all the games, including Bunko on Mondays. We also play Pig, and Yahtzee, and Scattergories.”
Corinne Talley has been playing bingo for a few years. “I really enjoy it an awful lot,” she said. “I had just retired from working really long hours and it gets me out of the house two or three times a week. I am meeting all new people. I’ve met so many nice people here.”
While bingo is underway on Friday afternoons, upstairs is for the billiards players. Three tables and six people are currently allowed due to COVID restrictions, but that doesn’t stop any of the players from having fun.
“This is the first time I’ve been up here. I used to shoot all the time,” said Willie Peterson, a new arrival to the billiards crew. Peterson fought prostate cancer and also participates in the state senior games. “My favorite part is winning.”
“Last year, they canceled the state senior games because of COVID, but they said that if you’ve been to past nationals, you’re qualified to go in 2022,” said Peterson who plays shuffleboard and bowling in the senior games. “So, I’ll be there!”
With the weather warming up and COVID slowly becoming less prominent, many seniors are relishing the chance to get out. “It’s nice at age 91 to play pool,” Bob Wilke said. “I’ve been playing for several years.”
Each of these seniors has a story to tell and a different reason for wanting to get out and have fun. “My wife died last week so I figured that I got to get out of the house,” Wilke said. “Days get long if you sit there by yourself and so that’s why I come here with these guys here.”
Wilke and his fellow pool players are hoping some of the restrictions ease up so they can get more participants in the billiards room. “We’ve got to get a few more people up here. If we could have eight, we could play with four per table and it would be more fun,” he said.
“This place has done a lot for an awful lot of people by getting us together to do things,” bingo player Corinne Talley said of the senior center. “I just enjoy coming here just to meet the people and doing the games and just getting out of the house. It’s fun!”