The Santa Maria Active Aging Committee, in collaboration with the International Council on Active Aging, wrapped up a week of free events for its senior community on Oct. 9 with outdoor car bingo.
Attendees piled up in their cars or came individually and met in the parking lot of the Elwin Mussell Senior Center, according to Barbara Wiley, recreation coordinator for the Santa Maria Parks and Recreation Department.
Wiley said everyone at the department was happy to see people back at the center because it had been closed for many months due to the coronavirus.
“It’s a joy to see them and see them interact with each other from the safety and convenience of their own car. They’re seeing friends that they may not have seen for months and just being able to share a wave and a smile—it’s so great,” she said.
The bingo session had 30 cars in attendance but Wiley said the number of people varied because many cars had multiple passengers. Attendees were given bingo cards and other tools to play, sanitized before and after use. When asking the crowd for feedback, attendees honked their car horns.
Winners of the game and everyone in attendance received gift bags filled with water bottles, exercise bands, and other supplies to keep these community members active.
Wiley said the activities planned throughout the week by the Parks and Recreation Department and its partners were big hits.
The events included a walk to end Alzheimer’s, where attendees tuned in virtually and walked in any location of their choosing; an outdoor zumba class; and photo submissions of participants on their outdoor walks.
Wiley’s favorite event was an outdoor concert where participants parked their cars in the Senior Center parking lot and enjoyed live music from a saxophone quartet—members of the Riptide Big Band. Some couples got out of their cars and danced next to their cars at a safe distance from others, which moved a lot of the department staff, she said.
PHOTO COURTESY OF RANDY DE LA PENA
SAFELY GROOVING Active Aging Week participants were able to safely step out of their cars and dance to a live saxophone quartet on Oct. 8 in Santa Maria.
In an effort to ensure interested residents could attend virtual events and keep in touch with friends and family, the department’s California Phone partners continued offering residents smartphone classes virtually. Wiley said it helped older adults learn how to connect with family via Facebook messenger, use the Facetime app, or work other features of their phone.
The events and gift bags, Wiley said, were made possible by sponsorships and donations from the Santa Maria Valley Seniors Club, Active Aging partner at Dignity Health, the Altrusa International Foundation of Santa Maria, the Altrusa Club of the Golden Valley, the Spirit Award by the International Council on Active Aging, and The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County.
The main message from the weeklong events, Wiley said, is for the senior community to get back to exercise basics. Seniors can go online and search YouTube for age appropriate exercise videos or simply go outside for a walk around the block.
“You can go to one of our beautiful parks and trails that we’ve kept open. Now that our pool has reopened it’s wonderful because you can reserve an entire swim lane for an hour,” she said.
If anyone is interested in getting involved with the Active Aging Committee, to volunteer their time at events, or help create innovative ways to keep the community active, call the city at 805-925-0951.