55+ Fun

Cary really stands for Creating Active Retirement Years, if you ask the folks at the Cary Senior Center.

With nearly one-fifth of Wake County residents age 55 or older, and a plethora of amenities supporting area seniors, Western Wake is tops for those looking to live it up after retirement.

Mitzi Kelley gets in step at a line dancing class at the Cary Senior Center. Formerly from Pennsylvania, Kelley moved to Cary six years ago to be closer to her family.

“If you can’t find it here I don’t think they’ve invented it yet,” said Jody Jameson, supervisor of the Cary Senior Center, referencing the Triangle’s copious entertainment offerings, professional sports teams, wealth of retirement communities and other amenities that she believes draw older adults to Western Wake.

Local senior and community centers offer a vast selection of resources for area seniors. Tucked into the picturesque Bond Park, the 17,000-square-foot Cary Senior Center is dedicated solely to serving 55-plus residents. In 2011, more than 22,000 attendees passed through its doors.

The most active of offerings include five different line dance classes that have resonated well with the community.

Saroj Primlani demonstrates how to guffaw with Turq Brown during a “learning to laugh” class by Primlani at the Cary Senior Center. The laughter workshop teaches deep breathing, visualization and laughter as a holistic workout.

“There’s going to be 80 people in our ballroom come rain, heat — anything,” she said.

Bingo twice a month and card games like bridge every Monday also frequently max out in attendance.

Courses change each season, always including a range of arts, technology, cooking and athletic options. Recent titles have included an Eco Boat tour to Jordan Lake; The Art of Zentangle, a class on creating artwork with repeating patterns; and Get Ready for Grilling Season, a cooking class that emphasizes maximizing healthy choices with vegetables.

While Cary has the largest range of senior programming (and non-Cary residents may participate in town programs for a higher fee), other Western Wake towns celebrate seniors with their own 55-and-up services too.

Morrisville hosts a number of day trips — like a tour of Battleship North Carolina on June 17 or a shopping trip to Concord Mills on Aug. 21 — dinners and other events. Senior Friday, held weekly at 9:30 a.m. at the Cedar Fork Community Center, offers the chance to play or learn games while gathering information on all upcoming senior programs.

Mike Seda reacts after scoring a point in the cornhole event at the 2012
Raleigh-Wake Senior Games at Jaycee Park in Raleigh. Dave Himberger is seen at left.

The town of Apex adds a personal touch to programming at its community center, with a monthly potluck luncheon for both mingling and education. Recent topics have included self-defense techniques and heart disease awareness. Walking tours of the city, fitness from yoga to Zumba gold, and excursions to locations like the N.C. Zoo are also on the senior lineup.

Freedom Friday trips will spice up the summer for Holly Springs residents, including a Governor’s Mansion Tour on May 24; outing to Wilmington’s Airlie Gardens June 1; Stars Theater Murder Mystery dinner July 13; and plenty of other events departing from the Holly Springs Cultural Center. Bass Lake Park hosts bimonthly bingo, and other senior programs are available periodically.

Fuquay-Varina agrees on the popularity of line dance among older adults, but also offers some alternative options, including a belly dance class for beginners to learn the fundamentals of the style. Twice per month, seniors face off at the Fuquay-Varina Community Center for a round of Wii Bowling, and each Wednesday is Senior Game Day, featuring a range of table and card games.

To celebrate the active lifestyle enjoyed by so many area adults, the Raleigh-Wake Senior Games for athletes “55 years of age or better” offer competitions in more than 20 sports, hosted all across Wake County in April.

The Raleigh-Wake division of the games is the largest of the state’s 52 localities. Awards are granted within five-year age divisions for each gender. More than 650 area seniors participated in 2010. Sports include everything from archery to cheerleading, tennis to racquetball. Cornhole joined the lineup in 2012.

Parkash Gupta makes an Easter basket arrangement during a floral design class at the Cary Senior Center.

“The whole goal is to get out, enjoy, get exercise and have a lifelong passion for fitness,” Jameson said. The Cary Senior Center hosted this year’s SilverArts exhibit, the visual arts complement to the sporting events. Medal winners from the Raleigh-Wake games are eligible to compete in the N.C. Senior games in the fall.

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