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Celebrating older Americans

May is the month designated by the U.S. president to celebrate and appreciate the contributions, vitality and aspirations of older Americans and to recognize their talents, wisdom and life experiences. In May 1963, President John. F Kennedy first asked the nation to honor and pay tribute to older Americans. Every president since has issued a proclamation continuing the tradition.

This year's theme for Older Americans Month is "Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow."

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Patricia Whitson, community services supervisor, Carroll County Bureau of Aging & Disabilities, said each of the five county senior centers has something planned.

"We celebrate the entire month, but we have a special meal on May 14," Whitson said of how the centers recognize Older Americans Month. "We actually spend the entire month trying to offer special events and activities [to commemorate] Older Americans Month," she said.

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"Through the senior center programs, we highlight health issues that may affect older adults: physical activity, safety, emergency preparedness training and crime prevention," she said.

"We honor our seniors to show they are an important part of our community," said Ruth Martin, center manager at the Taneytown Senior and Community Center. "They have worked most of their adult life as well as many years earlier in their lives. Upon retiring, many give their time and talents back to the community in various ways, whether it is for family or community."

Martin said, "Seniors are a wealth of information and a resource. We admire classics, and these are our seniors."

Many of the county's senior centers will bring in special entertainment on May 14, but at the North Carroll Senior and Community Center it will be regular bingo as scheduled. Do look for special strawberry ice cream sundaes with lunch that day.

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"We didn't want to cancel bingo because the bingo players love their bingo," said Renee Deiaco, center manager at the North Carroll Senior and Community Center. "Since our seniors also love ice cream, we combine sundaes with bingo for a special treat."

Deiaco said the center has a special May show planned for May 8, though. "It's a fabulous '50s singalong run by our [North Carroll Senior Center] Sing Along Singers group. They will have the set looking like a soda fountain," she said. "The programs are going to look like diner menus. It will be a lot of fun."

Kim Myers teaches piano and guitar lessons to seniors at the North Carroll center and volunteers to lead the North Carroll Senior Center Sing Along Singers. She said this is the group's second show. Fifteen singers are scheduled to perform, with eight to 10 dancers from the center's line dancing and ballroom dancing groups dancing along.

"One of my guitar students, Darlene Hollman, is going to play two of the songs," Myers said, "while Loretta Aylor sings one song alone and one with Jim Pipp." Each entertainer is a member of the center.

"We do this for anyone who ever wanted to be a rock star," Myers said. "Who hasn't dreamed about being a rock star at some point in their life?" she said. The audience members will get the words to all the songs so they can sing along.

Planned music includes 20 country and classic '50s tunes such as "Crazy," "Moon River," "Mr. Sandman," "Blue Suede Shoes" and others.

"It is about reawakening the talents and skills [older Americans] had when they were younger and in high school," Myers said.

Ruth Moreau is site council president at the South Carroll Senior and Community Center, and she runs its Comedy Club. The club will hold a show at that center May 27.

"We take different comedy scenes from [well-known classic shows] and make them our own. This time we are doing something on Sgt. Joe Friday, and we have a scene with Laverne and Shirley. We have some commercials and a few fairytales," Moreau said.

"In 'Jack Be Nimble,' it is funny what she does to get over that candlestick," Moreau said with a laugh. "We'll have a lot of funny scenes, like three fellows who will be the Andrews Sisters and do 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.'

"We are not Broadway, but we have a fun time," Moreau said. "When we make mistakes [the audience] likes it even better," she said. "It is a good way to showcase older Americans. We don't want to be serious. We want to make seniors laugh," she said.

"It is important to give affirmation to the people who are aging and aging well," said Angie Walz, center manager at the Mount Airy Senior and Community Center. "It is a day to celebrate who they are, what they are, how they arrived and all they have accomplished and to know there is a future and other people are here with you. It's a good day to value being older."

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