- Written by Megan Joyce Megan Joyce
2019 marked the 31st year for the Lancaster Senior Games, and the annual event started its fourth decade by setting a four-digit attendance record.
“We broke a record again this year. Last year was the highest attendance at 923, and this year it was 1,007,” Lisa Paulson, senior center program director for the Lancaster County Office of Aging, said.
Of those, 250 were first-time participants, Paulson added. This year’s games also included three 97-year-old athletes.
“Participants often tell us that this is the best week of the year,” Paulson said. “Many of our participants enjoyed the competition that they had when they were younger; this event gives them an opportunity to still be competitive — and they like the medals!”
Open to county residents age 55 and older, the Senior Games started in 1989 with just under 500 participants and 18 events.
This year’s games, held May 6–10 at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim, comprised 47 events, both competitive and noncompetitive, and ranging from shuffleboard, tai chi, bowling, and Pilates to badminton, swimming, running, and table tennis.
The Lancaster County Office of Aging, which coordinates the Senior Games, adds new events to the lineup each year; for 2019, new offerings were ladder golf, chair Pilates, and a rock climbing demonstration.
The most popular events were darts, bocce, and cornhole, according to Paulson.
“Besides the fun of participating in the events, [participants] also get to see many of their friends or people they knew in high school, etc.,” Paulson said. “Other people enjoy the noncompetitive events that we offer, like exercise classes.
“When I’m at the games and I see groups of friends laughing and teasing each other — it is the best reward,” she continued. “I also love seeing the married couples playing together, and we have parent/child teams that play. It’s wonderful!”
Because several of the events are held outdoors, the Senior Games are always at the mercy of Mother Nature to an extent, and this year proved no exception.
The only event severely affected was 18-hole golf, which sustained a 15-minute downpour that drove about a third of the players away, Paulson said.
The Office of Aging invests months of planning for each year’s five-day games, but Paulson said participants express appreciation for the amount of time that both employees and volunteers put into the event.
Volunteers now number more than 300, and the 2019 Senior Games were supported by 33 community businesses and organizations.
“One woman told me that she loves Senior Games week because she gets to be a kid again,” Paulson said. “All year long, she has to be an adult, but this week, she gets to play. Next week, she will go back to being an adult.”
For more information on the Lancaster Senior Games, call the Office of Aging at (717) 299-7979 or visit the Lancaster Senior Games website (www.lancseniorgames.org).
For a complete list of 2019 results, visit www.lancseniorgames.org/results.