Bringing in the fun

Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2004

You could say the group of seniors who meet for rehearsals once a week at the Kenai Senior Citizens Center are a little dingy, but in this case it's not an insult.

Even if it were, they'd probably just laugh it off anyway. Though the group meets under the auspices of being a bell ringing troupe, they're really more about enjoying themselves then they are becoming musical virtuosos.

"It's fun. We have a real good time," said Dorothy Lentz, one of the bell ringers. "The camaraderie, it's just terrific."

The four-member group formed about three months ago after LuAnn Barrett, volunteer activities coordinator at the Kenai center, saw a bell ringing performance at an activities conference she attended. Barrett thought the activity would be a good one for the Kenai center to offer.

"It's a good way of drawing people into the program who might not otherwise (participate)," she said. "The seniors just love it. They just glow after the performance."

The activity differs from bell choirs where performers ring bells of different tones to create music. The Kenai bell ringers produce four notes in all and play them rhythmically along with other music. That way, prior musical experience and note-reading skills aren't required, Barrett said. All that is required is following Barrett's lead as she cues the group and an interest in being in the spotlight.

As Lentz puts it: "There's probably a little bit of ham in all of us."

Along with Lentz, Teresa Catron, Maxine Plett and Jim Stewart comprise the Kenai Bell Ringers. When asked why they joined the group, the most common response was to meet new people.

"Friendship, something to do," was Stewart's answer. Lentz wouldn't let the sole male member of the group off the hook without a little teasing, though.

"It's (because of) all these women. I want to hear him say it," she said.

So far the group has performed at the Kenai center, the Kenai Peninsula summer senior picnic and at the senior talent contest in Soldotna, where they took first place in their category and overall.

"It's amazing how people appreciate music, it goes to your head," Lentz said. "Everybody is so appreciative, that's so neat."

For its most recent performance the group did patriotic songs in honor of the Fourth of July. They dressed in red, white and blue to match. Barrett said the group tries to incorporate costumes, sets and other touches to make performances more special. They are planning performances at Heritage Place in Soldotna and Forget-Me-Not Care Center in Kenai and are looking forward to rehearsing Christmas music.

The group is open to anyone 55 and older to join. Rehearsals are at 1 p.m. Tuesdays at the Kenai center.

"We'd sure welcome any more. It's not serious, it's just a lot of fun," Lentz said. "We just have a good time, and that's what it's all about."

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