RANDOLPH, NJ - Despite a cloudy morning, 144 participants from six different towns gathered at Brundage Park last Wednesday for the 28th Annual Senior Olympics.
Representatives from Randolph, Pequannock, Rutherford, Sparta, Wayne and West Milford split into groups of four to compete in each event: frisbee golf, corn hole, putting golf, horseshoes, chicken toss and basketball.
“Congratulations to all the Senior Olympians here today,” said Mayor Christine Carey, opening the event. “We’re really happy to have you in Randolph and for us to be hosting this year’s 28th annual event… Unfortunately, we couldn’t get you any better weather, but we hope you have a great day!”
Sparta was well represented and Sparta seniors won several medals. Christina Fritsch took home two medals; a gold in basketball and a silver in Corn Hole bean bag toss. Steve Willie won a silver in Corn Hole. George Lloyd also earned two medals; a silver in Basketball and a bronze in Corn Hole. Eileen Francis earned a silver in Frisbee golf.
The team motto was “Do it for Kay,” honoring former team mate Kay Brewer who recently passed away. “Kay was a major contributor to our success during our winning years,” Sparta Senior Citizen Coordinator Marianne Dilworth said. “She won many medals.”
The location rotates between the six towns represented, and this year Randolph had the opportunity to host. The rain held off throughout each activity, including a breakfast sponsored by the Randolph Kiwanis Club and a lunch sponsored by Black River Barn, Mr. Crabby’s and the Randolph Rotary.
“We’ve been doing this for the past couple years - okay 10 years - so it’s just kind of an annual thing,” said Randolph resident Celeste Stracco motioning to her husband, “and it’s the only thing we can do together!”
Gene Stracco and Al Cheli added that the Randolph Senior Softball team would be representing New Jersey in the National Senior Games tournament in Birmingham, Alabama from June 7- June 14, with sponsorship by thw Randolph Diner.
Many senior Olympians commented that basketball was their favorite event of the day, but they enjoy getting together and playing all the games.
“But I think we like it because we’re supporting other seniors,” said resident Caryl McBride, joking that they also came for the food.
“It’s fun, it’s a day out, and at least we got three practices in this year,” said Ben Natoli, member of the Senior Club Board of Directors. “It’s not strenuous, because we have to accommodate everyone.”
“I was practicing this morning, and I got five baskets in a row, but that was just practice,” Natoli continued. “When it comes to the nitty gritty, forget about it.”
“I enjoy being with the seniors of Randolph; they’re a great group,” added Rose Gangemi. “You see all these people from different towns, and we all compete with each other… It really boosts their morale.”
“We have fun; we call each other names. It’s not about the food,” Gangemi concluded. “It’s about gathering.”
A fun event for all was the women’s and men’s doo wop that had a representative from each town.
Tiebreakers for each event took place after lunch, followed by an award presentation and closing ceremony.