It's senior party time! Plus-60s kicking up their high heels in Ocean City

September 08, 1991|By M. K. Guzda

It's no surprise that the real party started after Labor Day weekend when most of the youngsters limped out of town for the season.

The county unveiled a facility in Ocean City last Tuesday where people come to dance, to sing, to eat and be merry. But you have to be at least 60 to fit in.

The Worcester County Senior Center at 104 41st St. on the bayside offers recreation and education to about 125 seniors four days a week.

Seniors were using the facilities at Northside Park at 125th Street until the bayview center was built in the shadow of the Convention Center water tower. The center features two carpeted card rooms (one for bridge, one for pinochle), an arts and crafts room, shuffleboard on the smooth cement patio, an area for a pool table, a large kitchen facility and a room large enough to hold a stage for shows.

Especially popular with seniors is line dancing, which will be offered at the new center from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Mondays, said Jeannette Hastings, coordinator of the center for the county Commission on Aging.

Definitely not sedate ballroom dancing, the lively steps are done in a line with other dancers, said instructor Angela Corbin. Since many of the participants are widowers and widows, this allows them the freedom to dance without a partner, she said.

The Seniorettes, a high-kicking group doing their best imitation of Broadway's Rockettes, will meet Monday afternoons, but space is limited. Rita Villani, a former Rockette now in her 60s, choreographs the group. The dancers, costumed in sequined black knit body suits with chartreuse sleeves and fuchsia head bands, perform at various charitable events and parades in the area.

Another recreational event that gets the blood going is balloon volleyball, which replaces the large, heavy ball with bouncing balloons.

Ceramics and painting are high on the lists of attending seniors, said Mrs. Hastings, as are sewing and knitting.

More competitive events include shuffleboard, table tennis, pool playing and bingo. Twice a year the center will conduct bridge and pinochle tournaments that seniors prepare for all year.

But seniors are not at the center merely to entertain themselves. Many of the activities are designed to recycle their efforts back into the community. In the knitting and crocheting classes, seniors stitch tiny caps distributed to local hospitals to warm the heads of newborns. Lap robes also are made for nursing homes and hospitals.

And once a month the seniors go to the Berlin Nursing Center to entertain and visit with their contemporaries in the constant-care facility.

The center will continue conducting bazaars for which seniors make handicrafts such as pot holders, stuffed animals, hats, mittens, afghans, baby clothes and toys and knitted items. The proceeds from the sale, scheduled for the last Wednesday of every month, go to the senior center.

The education programs are tailor-made to seniors. Programs on nutrition explain what needs the body requires as it grows older. Benefit services are spelled out, untangling the often confusing maze of paperwork and forms of Social Security and Medicare. Food stamp requirements and updates also are filtered to the seniors.

A representative from the Senior Information and Assistance program, formerly the Gateway program, visits the center once a month.

Health information is always available, said Mrs. Hastings, an blood-pressure screenings are offered on a regular basis.

And during tax season, January to April, there are seminars on tax preparation at the center.

With all that tax refund money, seniors can benefit from excursions to Western Maryland and dinner theaters arranged by the center. The trips are not free and can cost $300 for a weekend in the mountains, but the accommodations and transportation are booked by the center.

The center is open 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It's closed Fridays and weekends due to lack of funding, said Jean Monroe, director of the county Commission on Aging in Snow Hill. There is no admission charge to the center, but there are fees for some activities, such as the trips.

For more information about the center, call 289-0824 or 289-0825.

Senior aerobics will continue at Northside Park, said SusaPetito, assistant director of recreation and parks for Ocean City. The class is taught by Penny Carley, who also will coordinate the popular senior bowling league conducted at area bowling alleys.

Nightime dances -- one Friday a month for four months -- are also held at the park, and ceramics and painting programs will continue there on Mondays at 10 a.m.

Besides these, most of the senior programs formerly at Northside Park will move to the new county facility on 41st Street, said Ms. Petito.

"It'll take about a month before we know what we're going to do," she said. "The town will still be involved in senior activities, but we don't know to what extent."

Call the park at 250-0125 for more information about activities shifting from one site to the other.

Seniors in Ocean City who need transportation to the new center or Northside Park can ride the local bus system for free if they apply for a rider's card at City Hall. The fare for seniors not residing in Ocean City is $1.

The county also provides transportation equipped with wheelchair lifts and ramps for handicapped seniors.

Seniors might also want to check out other events taking place in town, such as the big band concerts in November, January and February, said Leslie Craigle of the Ocean City Visitors Bureau.

"We gear our events to an older crowd [after Labor Day] because they travel in the off season," said Ms. Craigle. Last year, 1,000 people danced to the sounds of the Tommy Dorsey Band and Warren Covington and the Pied Pipers.

Sunfest, a four-day celebration from Sept. 19-22 this year, is a big hit with seniors, too, said Ms. Craigle. The "Old-Fashioned Bathing Suit Contest," sing-alongs and Mummers are quite a draw, she said.

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