EATON — While Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” echoing throughout the Preble County Council on Aging’s campus, the good times never seemed so good as the organization celebrated Senior Day on Tuesday, May 11.
The PCCOA annual Senior Day celebration coincides with Older Americans Month, which has been celebrated each May going back to 1963.
The theme for this year’s Older Americans Month is “Communities of Strength,” which was evident at the PCCOA’s drive-thru event where over 250 people across 122 cars participated in the festivities.
Seniors could drive through the PCCOA parking lot to receive goodie bags and treats from nearly 20 vendors before receiving a meal on the way out.
“[In] 2019, this looked completely different than it does this year,” said Shelley Ratliff, Executive Director of the PCCOA. “We did everything in our barn. We actually had about 400 people come through and got out, they parked, they came in. We had live music, free lunch, vendors, I want to say that we had 30-40 vendors. It was just completely different than today.”
Once 2020’s celebration approached, however, the event was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Not wanting to miss another year, the decision was made to move the event outside and turn it into a drive-thru event, one of many the PCCOA has hosted throughout the pandemic.
“It’s extremely important for us as staff because we’ve missed that interaction,” Ratliff said. “I’ve actually seen staff who would never do anything like this – they’re dancing and singing, having a great time.”
Participants in the drive-thru event also had the opportunity to sing a few verses of “Sweet Caroline” for a singalong video that will be posted online soon.
“It’s an actual video challenge by Neil Diamond, and it’s got to do with what a cruddy year 2020 was, keeping us all in our homes,” Ratliff said. “Now we’ve all started getting back out.”
The PCCOA’s annual meeting followed Tuesday’s celebration, and drive-thru participants also had the opportunity to win door prizes.
“Our seniors as they’re coming through, we’re seeing people we haven’t seen in over a year, and the tears have been flowing,” Ratliff said.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles