With a myriad of games to choose from, Kenai Peninsula seniors who are interested in getting out, active and social have the chance to go for the gold and reach Olympic stature today.
The Fifth Annual Kenai Peninsula Senior Olympics kicks off with a pool tournament at Hooligan's Saloon and Lodging and continues through the week until Saturday with a variety of activities including card games, basketball and bowling. Ken Losser, administrative assistant for the Soldotna Senior Center, said sign-up sheets are available at senior centers across the peninsula from Seward to Homer and anyone age 55 and older may participate.
"Last year we had about 120 people participate," he said. "We have pool, a water walk, cribbage, bridge, darts, a walk-a-thon, shuffleboard, hand n foot cards, bowling, basketball, Tripoley, pinochle, dominoes, poker and ping pong."
Losser said Marty Hanson, owner of Eyewear Express, came up with the idea five years ago, and started collaborating with the Soldotna Senior Citizens Center and other senior centers. Local businesses have provided venues and equipment, Losser said, including the Peninsula Center Mall, the site of the walk-a-thon.
"The walk-a-thon occurs over a three-day period," Losser said, adding that the number of laps around the mall are predetermined. One person monitors the walk-a-thon, counting the number of laps each athlete walks. "The one who walks the most laps is the winner," he said.
Hooligan's donated the shuffleboard, darts and pool tables, Losser said. The water walk will be held at the Nikiski Pool and bowling tournament will be held at Kenai Bowling Lanes. The Nikiski Recreation Center and Soldotna Senior Center are also venues for events.
When the last lap has been walked, the final basket made and ultimate hand dealt, the first, second and third-place winners will be honored at an awards ceremony at the Peninsula Center Mall.
Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded and pictures taken.
Losser said the pictures will go in senior center newsletters across the peninsula and will also appear in the Senior Voice, the senior citizen's newspaper.
After the awards are handed out, athletes and spectators will have the chance to attend a no-host dinner at Ginger's Restaurant for $10.
Regardless of who wins, Losser said the point of the event is to help senior citizens stay active.
"An important part of any senior's life is the social aspect," he said. "This provides an opportunity to meet other seniors in their community and uniquely in other communities on the Kenai Peninsula."
Jessica Cejnar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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