It all started some 16 years ago when a group of sourdough friends decided to throw a party for old timers, “There was seven of us who had been friends since the late forties and we would get together every Thursday for lunch either at a restaurant or in each others homes and we’d have a lot fun telling stories and sharing giggles and laughs and partying every Thursday and so many folks wanted to join us that we had to limit it to the small group who had been meeting for about thirty years, but we decided to open it once a year on Thursday at the Kenai Senior Center for everyone who wanted to come and join the party and enjoy a nice turkey dinner,” explained Joanna Hollier who coordinates the Old Timers Luncheon every year along with Peggy Arness.
Last Thursday some 300 seniors showed up for the party which always highlights a mystery guest. Peggy Arness writes clues about the persons identify and she doesn’t tell anyone who it is until the day of the dinner, “I don’t even tell my dog,” laughed Peggy, “Last year Dorothy Thompson didn’t even guess it was her and nobody guessed her. But this year I chose two people who had the same initials Emil Bartolowitz and Elmer Banta from the Coho area but neither one of the them showed, but Jackie Oberg and Jean Brockel guessed who the two great and colorful homesteaders were,” said Arness.
Amidst all the hugs and hellos and laughs comes a time to remember those who passed along during the last year and their names are read and remembered by Peggy’s son Joe Arness, “We’re always amazed at how many have passed on over the last year but it’s a good time to remember them and its always inspirational when Joe reads their names for the final farewell to those 88 who ‘Crossed the Bar’ this past year, then Jean Brockel with her lovely voice lead us all in singing Auld Lang Syne and God Bless America. It makes for a full day and just enough fun before it’s time to hurry home for our afternoon naps. Growing old isn’t always fun, so the Old Timers Luncheon is a reason for those who have helped our communities grow over the past 60 plus years to hug o shed a tear while we enjoy seeing everyone. Joanna and I appreciate all the enthusiastic help we receive while preparing for this luncheon. Our thanks to Rachel and her staff at the Kenai Senior Center for all their help. We love to do it and will continue as long as folks come and enjoy themselves. Remember to circle August 15, 2013 on you calendar and we’ll look forward to seeing you all next year,” said Arness.