Fruita seniors savor their can-do spirit

It was a celebration worth dressing up for, and flattened pop-can hats, purses, and vests with pop-tab trim seemed the most appropriate attire for Fruita resident Ellen Roberts.

Roberts spent four months assembling the pop-can outfits for herself and three friends to wear Saturday to the unveiling of a statue built beside the Fruita Community Center. The statue commemorates the 10-plus years seniors such as Roberts spent collecting aluminum soda cans to pay for a senior room in the rec center, which also celebrated its grand opening Saturday.

“I feel great I could do it at my age,” Roberts said of collecting and cleaning the cans.

Members of the city’s Senior Task Force collected the cans in barrels placed around town and turned them in for $90,000 in cash. It was a lot of work, according to Dora Duncan, who collected the cans for seven years.

“But it was sure worth the payoff,” she said.

The senior room has a pool table and television equipped with a Nintendo Wii, plus puzzles and space for card games, and any senior can use it for free. Some people just come to chat and enjoy a place that’s just for them.

“It gives me goose bumps to see it happening. It really means a lot,” Mary Lee Bowen, another member of the Senior Task Force, said Saturday. “It gives us comfort to have our own room.”

The room has a nice view of the statue, which reminds all inside of the task force’s efforts. That’s because the statue incorporates three of the barrels that task force members placed around town to collect pop cans for their effort.

The barrels act as a base to the statue, which has a pirate ship theme at the top, featuring the figures of three children sailing in another barrel toward the future. Local artist Jeff Bates said he designed the statue to symbolize children being the future of the community.

A time capsule will be placed inside one of the barrels and opened in 2061. The rec center is taking suggestions for what should be encased inside the time capsule, which will be placed inside the statue during this May’s Mike the Headless Chicken Festival.


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