Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
The 29th Annual Macon County Senior Games officially opened Monday, April 22, with a ceremony, covered dish lunch, and three opening fun-game events: shuffleboard, bocce, and cornhole.
Hosted by Macon County Recreation Department, the local Senior Games runs April 22 through May 11 and is sanctioned by the N.C. Senior Games, Inc., which is sponsored statewide by N.C. Division of Aging.
Senior Games is an organization established to create a year-round health promotion and education program for adults, ages 50 and “better,” according to Joe Holbrook, the local Senior Games’ coordinator for the last three years. “I think the games are very important for fitness, fellowship, family, and fun.”
The concept of Senior Games was implemented by the state of North Carolina in 1983. By 1991, local Senior Games were coordinated, and every spring since then the community turns out to watch and cheer on athletes competing in more than 20 different events, including archery, bowling, cycling, racquetball, swimming, and tennis. Senior Games also includes a category dubbed Silver Arts, which – touts N.C. Senior Games – “provides a stage for the creative talents of the visual, heritage, literary, and performing artists.” Participants in this category might enter writing contests in various genres; samples of heritage arts, such as basket weaving or pottery; visual arts such as photography or paintings; and/or, participate in performing arts.
“We have anywhere from 125 to 150 participants sign up for the local games, and they all participate somehow whether it be in the games, Silver Arts, or Silvers Striders (long distance walker/hikers),” explained Holbrook. “Local games are done three weeks out of the year and state games in Raleigh are two weeks out of the year, but the seniors are fully active ever day of the year in some sport at all times here at the facility. A committee meets four times a year to plan for these activities and events.”
He added further that Senior Games are paid for and supported by sponsorships, fundraisers, and local games’ registration fees.
“Senior Games are important because they stress healthy aging,” said Eve Haller, whose husband Fred, has been the president of Macon County Senior Games for more than 25 years. “Healthy seniors are active seniors. This is what Senior Games is all about.”
Senior Games draws a significant turnout, she said. “For the past 28 years, participation has been as high as 250 and as low as 150.”
The Hallers do not just work toward making certain Senior Games occurs and runs smoothly each year, but they also participate. “Fred does participate in most of the games offered. I have, in the past, mostly participated in swimming events. I don’t swim any more but do participate in some of the lower impact sports, like shuffleboard, etc. I also devoted many years to office work and acted as treasurer. And, we both have participated in the [N.C.] State games for many years.”
All Senior Games are held at the Macon County Recreation Park, 1288 Georgia Road, Franklin. For a complete schedule of upcoming events, and to learn how to volunteer or become a participating athlete, visit maconcountyseniorgames.com.