Autumn sun shines on rescheduled All Senior Picnic
Half a dozen members of Rambling Travelers, a travel and adventure group, staked out a shady spot at the All Senior Picnic to dine on pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad skewers and to dish about their upcoming adventures.
They were among the more than 500 seniors who flocked to Howard Amon Park in Richland on Sept. 29 for the first All Seniors Picnic since the Covid-19 pandemic forced a two-year hiatus and poor air quality forced organizers to reschedule.
“It’s the first very large senior event we’ve had since 2019,” said David Everett, a director of the Richland Seniors Association, a group that welcomes residents from any of the surrounding cities.
Getting seniors together as a community is important, especially after the pandemic isolated so many of them, said Todd Halterman, founder of Active 4 Life, one of the event’s sponsors. He emceed the Hawaiian-themed event and encouraged seniors to have fun but also to visit with the vendors to learn about the ways they could volunteer in their community to feel better connected to it.
The Tri-City senior population continues to grow so events like the picnic are key to connecting seniors, Everett said. Over the past decade, he noted the greater Tri-City 65-and-older population has climbed from 10.2% to 14%.
“Not only is this senior community getting together in large groups, but we’re eager to encourage Pasco, Kennewick and Richland seniors as a community of people to realize they have the power and opportunity here – they just need the will to become a family,” Everett said.
At the All Senior Picnic, they were doing just that.
Rambling Traveler Judi Clark, a retired bank and title company manager from Kennewick, brought her longtime friend and neighbor, Myrene Northey, a retired merchandiser for JCPenney.
The women, who have been friends since their daughters grew up attending the same schools, said they were enjoying the sun and camaraderie.
Northey said she was temporarily sidelined from driving but looked forward to being cleared to get back behind the wheel in a few weeks.
The Ramblers were heading south in October for their next trip – to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Clark said she and her husband will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in November. Her secret to a long marriage?
“He’s in his cave in the garage a lot,” she said, laughing. He sat this year’s picnic out.
Labors Local #348, the Richland labor union, was well represented by retired members.
Lamar Bennett of West Richland, Dan Kuykendall of Richland, and Robert Gerhard of Pasco, joked that they spent decades on the “wrong end of a shovel.”
Before retirement, they had a hand in building some of the region’s most prominent structures, including projects on the Hanford site, college campuses, area hospitals and the Lower Monumental and Wanapum dams.
Today, they spend their days mostly playing golf, motorcycle riding and on home repair. The best part of retirement? Hunting and fishing on weekdays, when their favorite spots aren’t so crowded.
Gerhard, the youngest of six siblings, said he may be retired, but he’s still the honey-do guy for his close-knit family.
Dianne Kidd, 75, of Richland, rolled through the picnic in her motorized chair, visiting with some of the 50 business and community vendors. She had never attended the picnic before.
“I think it was awesome,” she said.