All week long, older adults will be getting out and participating in more than 20 athletic and recreational events from axe throwing to pickleball to billiards in Grand Junction’s Western Colorado Senior Games.
The Senior Games, which are now in their 20th year, are an annual event organized by the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department and open to anyone 50 years and older. It was canceled last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The 20th anniversary was planned for last year,” said Parks and Recreation Director Ken Sherbenou. “So it’s pretty funny, you look at our T-shirts for the senior games 20th anniversary we crossed out 2020 and wrote 2021.”
The event kicked off Monday with bocce ball, billiards, table tennis and disc golf.
Brenda Furnace was out for the table tennis event, hitting the ball back and forth for a little doubles warmup. She said she had participated in a previous year and had enjoyed it.
“I haven’t had as much practice as I need, but I’m going to come out and give it my best,” Furnace said. “It’s always fun.”
Furnace is also signed up to play in the pickle- ball event, which will end the games on Saturday and Sunday. She said she had wanted to take part in more events, but the spots filled up too quickly. More than 200 seniors are participating this year.
“Notes for next year, it’s getting to be so popular that you want to do it first thing when registration opens,” Furnace said. “That way you can get your spot.”
Still, Furnace said she plans to make it out as a spectator as well to cheer her husband on at golf and horseshoes.
All the events are open to spectators, and Sherbenou said he’s happy to see the community able to be out enjoying events again.
“It is really wonderful to be able to see these events that the community looks forward to actually happen this year,” Sherbenou said. “From JUCO kicking off our summer to the Senior Games, which is one of our later events that happen in the summertime.”
Sherbenou credited Lorie Gregor, Adult Programs/Arts Recreation coordinator, for her many years of work spearheading the event. He said Gregor, along with the many volunteers and sponsors, helped make the program a success for the past 20 years.
“It’s pretty cool to see the enthusiasm from folks who look forward to this every year,” Sherbenou said. “So it’s really a great celebration of community. It’s wonderful to have Lorie help us deliver the 20th anniversary of the Senior Games in Grand Junction.”
While Parks and Recreation serves everyone in the community, Sherbenou said the Senior Games are important for getting the 50 and older population out and active in a fun social environment.
“That 50-plus population is just critical to get active,” Sherbenou said. “There’s so much benefit from participating in events like this and celebrating healthy activity and social connection. It really makes a big difference.”
Furnace said she would encourage any older adult interested to come out and give the games a try.
“Fifty years old and up, and just get out and get your game going or get your walk on,” she said. “Whatever makes you feel good, just get out and do it and have fun.”
A health fair will also be part of this year’s Senior Games. It is scheduled from 9 am. to noon Friday at the Lincoln Park barn.