May 17, 2006
Seniors Let Good Times Roll
Seniors swaying to a calypso beat and strutting their decked-out dogs painted a portrait last Saturday of what Americans are calling the "new old age."
The event, dubbed "Let the Good Life Roll: Radical Maturity In Action," was planned as part of the East End's premier Older Americans Month celebration. Guests including Congressman Tim Bishop and Southold Town Board members Bill Edwards and Dan Ross applauded the new, vibrant lives of seniors today.
Festivities were held at Peconic Landing. Both residents and members of the public enjoyed health and wellness demonstrations, a May Mile fitness walk around the grounds, a tram to the beach, a flower show, a tennis tournament, an art show, and perhaps the most popular event of all, a dog show and obedience exhibition.
Robert Syron, executive director of Peconic Landing, said the event was meant to celebrate the philosophy of total wellness, embraced by staff and residents, and to introduce the concept of radical maturity to the East End community.
And that's especially important in Southold, said Edwards, where the population today is much older on average than the nation as a whole. "In 20 years, the country will look a lot like Southold does today as the Baby Boom generation moves into their 60s and 70s," he said.
Since the Baby Boom peaked in 1956, when more than four million births were recorded, reminded Edwards, there are more people aged 50 in this country today than any other age. By 2020, those individuals will be reaching 65. "The country must and will change its perception of older Americans and the contributions they can make to society," said Edwards. "We in Southold are lucky to have such a pool of accumulated wisdom in our midst and it's very appropriate to recognize it with Older Americans Month."
The event's dog show was the centerpiece of the afternoon. Programs such as pet therapy are a big hit with seniors who say their furry friends give new meaning to their lives. Bea Jochen, who teaches dog obedience, brought her dog, Annie, to demonstrate some crowd pleasers such as pooch jumping though hoops. Residents are encouraged to have pets. She said, "Pets provide such emotional support. Not only that, but they make us walk!"
Other costumed canines in the day's dog show included Becky and Cassidy, adorned with festive Caribbean leis; Pretzel, a miniature dachshund who came in hot dog garb, and Jack, the baby of the bunch at only a few months old.
Along with a pooch parade, residents took to the stage and told stories about their pets, including one poignant tale about Pride, a shelter dog who is loving his new life.
After the show, dog prizes including water bowls and treats were awarded for categories including best-dressed, best owner anecdote, funniest, best "welcome wiggle," and best kisser.