‘Round the carousel: Area seniors enjoy spring carnival in Alabaster

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Some 450 to 500 Shelby County seniors left their cares behind and took a reminiscent ride on the carousel Thursday, May 18 at the Shelby County Senior Carnival at Veterans Park in Alabaster.

The event was in celebration of Older Americans Month and a coordinated effort of Shelby County, the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging (M4A), Alabaster Parks and Recreation and Shelby County RSVP.

It resulted in a full day of fun, food, information exchange, entertainment, carnival rides and lots of camaraderie.

As the seniors entered the park decorated with balloons, table covers, banners and a real &8220;Spring Fling&8221; carnival, Barbara Nash, RSVP director and her volunteers presented them with brightly colored &8220;Senior Carnival&8221; tee-shirts matching the park decorations.

From the tee-shirt pavilion, the group took a stroll across to the walking trail where exhibitors were set up to provide them with &8220;goodies,&8221; information and opportunities to win one of the many door prizes given away after lunch.

One exhibit even provided seniors with a hands-on opportunity to try out the mobile chair, which is available to those with restricted mobility. Some of the seniors enjoyed taking the chair on a ride through the park.

When the trip through vendor exhibits was complete, seniors made their way up the grassy area where they had the opportunity to take another stroll down memory lane as they visited the &8220;Duck Pond&8221; and picked up a numbered duck to win a prize.

Prizes included jacks & ball, back scratchers, squish balls, Japanese handcuffs, candy, bubblegum and other items reminiscent of childhood. The next table provided &8220;smiley-face&8221; rings complete with a number to later be used to draw for door prizes.

Next stop was the giant tent where Kim Reynolds of the County Manager&8217;s office made certain that popcorn, soft drinks, bottled water and other snacks awaited the special senior guests.

Under the tent everyone enjoyed visiting with each other and greeting elected officials from Shelby County and the city of Alabaster.

Irene Collins, Executive Director of the Alabama Department of Senior Services, was introduced by Julie Miller, Executive Director of the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging (M4A).

Mrs. Collins presented a proclamation from Governor Bob Riley declaring May as Older Americans Month, paying tribute to seniors, and encouraging healthy aging leading to an independent lifestyle.

&8220;Two Men and a Drum&8221; entertained the audience with on-going music throughout the day, and special guest Ms. Senior Alabama Dianna Murphree provided two great musical selections.

Ms. Sr. Alabama was dressed in red and wearing her tiara and banner. She will compete for the crown of Ms. Senior America in November from Las Vegas, Nev.

Other musical entertainment charmed the audience, including County Commissioner Jon Parker and April Clark who sang Patsy Cline songs.

The Heardmont Linedancers strutted their stuff through a number of selections, and many seniors could not resist the temptation to get up and join them.

Hamburgers were cooked out on site and following a welcoming by Commissioner Larry Dillard and the blessing by Larry Vann, director of Alabaster parks and recreation, lunch was enjoyed by all.

Following lunch vendors introduced themselves, thanked seniors for visiting their booth and drew names for door prizes.

One local business, Klassy Klean, learned of the event and showed up at the last minute to award a home cleaning.

Mayor David Frings called numbers from the &8220;smiley-face&8221; rings for winners of other prizes.

A tired group of seniors headed home for a rest following this trip reminiscent of many things they have enjoyed through the years.

Grandchildren across Shelby County are now learning to play &8220;jacks&8221; and trying to figure out how to release themselves from Japanese handcuffs