Johnston residents welcome at 22nd Cranston Senior Games

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The Michael A. Traficante Enrichment Center is getting ready to light the torch.

New Executive Director Jeffrey Barone and his team are in the final stages of preparation as the 22nd Annual Senior Games are set to begin on Sept. 23 at the Center on 1070 Cranston St.

This will be the first time the Games are held at the Senior Center, as they used to take place at Cranston High School West.

While there will be satellite locations for other activities, such as horseshoes at Bain Middle School, the event is designed to showcase the amenities they have to offer.

“Here what we’re doing is we’re trying to utilize all of our rooms,” Programs Coordinator Kathi Dunphy said. “No 1, to have it here, and No. 2, to make sure that some of these people see us and see the senior center.”

Barone explained that the center was forced to scale back operations a bit after CVS discontinued its sponsorship of the event two years ago. This will be the last year with any resources from CVS, and Barone and his staff have searched for new corporate sponsors.

Tickets cost just $20 for seniors, while Barone estimates that the center spends about $35 per participant. The 3-day golf tournament at Cranston Country Club is a separate activity, and tickets run $75 per person for 18 holes, a cart, a sleeve of balls and a banquet.

For a venture where they lose money rather than profit, Barone said they need all the help they can get.

“We are looking for any corporate sponsors, anybody that wants to get their name on the thing,” Barone said. “If they want to donate money to provide the water, whatever they want to do. I’m going to reach out to a couple of businesses that I know personally to see if they can help sponsor it, because this is something that gets the seniors involved and it keeps them going. We want to keep it going. Like anything else, we need money to do it.”

While the golf prices went up $5, Barone was steadfast on not raising the price for the Games.

“We can’t,” Barone said on increasing ticket prices. “The seniors pay a fee to become a member here, they pay a monthly fee if they want to use the Transvan, they make donations for their lunches and stuff.”

Tickets for the Senior Games are $20, and athletes can partake in however many events they wish. Bowling takes place at two locations: 10-pin is at Lang’s, and duckpin is held at Legion Bowl. The latter also hosts the billiards tournament.

Santa Maria DiPrata will host the bocce event, where men play on Friday, Sept. 22, at 5 p.m. and women at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Bain will play host to the 400-meter walk and horseshoes. The Senior Center will be available for mind games, including Scrabble, dominoes and chess among others.

Staff member Yvette Grullon said that, while no new games have been added to the slate, there will be free chair massage therapy and fall prevention and balance screenings available. Those features tie into this year’s theme for the event: Fitness for the Body and Mind

She added that about 250-280 seniors take part in the Games, while about 300 hit the links.

“We don’t do it to make money,” Barone said. “We do it to show the center, we do it in conjunction with all the stuff we do all year. We do these health screenings all year. These are things we provide on a daily basis, this here just gives them a little competition and it benefits us at the Center because it brings other people here.”

There certainly is competition, too. Grullon said that certain sports more than others bring out the fire in seniors.

“Horseshoes, bocce and bowling [are] super competitive,” Grullon said. “The guys have their own little group, we have guys from North Providence come in and they have their own little team. They bowl against each other. It is competitive. That’s good for them.”

Dunphy and Grullon will help run the event while Barone is away in Italy, but he expressed the utmost confidence in them to do so. He has participated in the Games as a councilman, so he has seen first-hand the impact the Games have.

“I would go and they were always so good,” Barone said. “I just love to see the participants.”

Dunphy added, with a laugh, that some of them “can do a heck of a lot more than I could do.”

Opening ceremonies on Saturday, Sept. 23, include remarks from Mayor Allan Fung and keynote speaker Danielle North of WPRI. There will also be a continental breakfast and a cooler with water given to all participants.

There will be an award ceremony and banquet the following Tuesday as well.

Anyone interested in signing up for the Games can call 401-780-6000 or print a registration form online at cranstonri.com. The only requirement is that they must be 55 years old or older. They don’t even have to be Cranston residents.

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