Every two years, North Central Planning and Development District’s Agency on Aging holds an Over 60 Celebration, catering to senior citizens in Carroll, Attala, Grenada, Leflore, Holmes, and Yalobusha – the seven counties that North Central cover.
Darlena Allen, director of the Agency on Aging, said this is the 39th year the event has been held.
“It started in Greenwood, but it eventually moved to Winona,” she said.
Allen said over 500 people attended the event, many from various nursing homes, adult day cares, and assisted living facilities, as well as those living independently.
The event began at 10 a.m. and lasted until 4 p.m., and there was entertainment from Carroll County Tax Assessor Wilton Neal; the Winona Site Singers; Addie Rainey, 92, of Winona who sang “Amazing Grace;” and line dancers from the Lewis Johnson Senior Complex in Grenada –which also had the biggest group present—and the Winona Community Center.
Organizers also crowned the oldest male and female in attendance. The oldest female was Eula Magee, 99, of Durant and the oldest male was Lawrence Zollicoffer, 87, of Kosciusko, and they both received sashes, crowns, and received keys to the City of Winona from Alderwoman Sarah Minnieweather.
Allen said this year’s crowd broke a record for attendance.
“We weren’t expecting that many. Each year gets a little larger and larger. It isn’t the biggest crowd we’ve had. We’ve had a little bigger when we were in Greenwood, but it’s the biggest one we’ve had here in Winona.”
She said the event is time for seniors to fellowship, something many don’t get to do.
“It celebrates our seniors, and it gives them a time to fellowship with each other and work with exhibitors and retrieve information that will help them in their life. It’s a good thing. They can come together and enjoy each other, and it’s something that they enjoy,” Allen said. “It makes it their day that they feel important. Some of them are in nursing homes, and they don’t get a chance to see other people besides the ones in there with them. It’s exciting for them, especially for the baby boomers; they love to retrieve information. We are all constantly seeking and searching for how we can improve our lives.”
She said she was very pleased with the event overall, and she and her team are already working on their event for 2021.
“It was wonderful; it went beyond my expectations. There were resources for them, fun and entertainment, they had a ball. I’ve gotten good reviews,” Allen said.
She said if there’s anything that they are working on changing, it’s to get those in attendance to register and to have it happen more efficiently.
“We had a little hiccup with the oldest male. You call out someone is the oldest, and they’re not the oldest, and you don’t know that,” she said. She added that they were going to work on pushing registration. “They must sign in to let us know you're here. That’s been the biggest thing the last couple of times we’ve had it. When we get ready to do the Oldest Male and Female, and we call them out, and they’re not the oldest, we don’t know that because they didn’t register.”
Allen continued, “I’ve been working with them for over 42 years, and it’s been a blessing. They’re a blessing to me, and I’ve enjoyed every year that I’ve worked with them. It’s been a blessing. It doesn’t take much to make them happy. You have some people who complain all the time, but if you were in their shoes, what would you do?’
Steve Russell, executive director of North Central Planning and Development District, said he feels the event went very well.
“It was very well attended, everyone had a good time; there was good information for the seniors. I was very pleased. We do this every two years, and this year was a great success compared to the past years. I think it’s the best turn out that we’ve had. We appreciate everyone’s support from everyone in this area from the businesses, the vendors who came out to the senior citizens coming out to support. We appreciate it,” Russell said.
Allen said she’s been working with senior citizens since she was in her 20s. “It just gets better and better. I love what I do.”