Lanett seniors take part in May Day celebration

Published 9:00 am Friday, May 13, 2022

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LANETT — Before the COVID pandemic, participants in senior center programs all across Alabama flocked to the Talladega Superspeedway this time of year to celebrate May Day. Thursday was the day to be celebrated this year, but it did not take place for the third year running because of COVID precautions.

With no statewide celebration, the Lanett Senior Center had its own celebration this year. It was on a much smaller scale than what has taken place in Talladega, but the seniors had a great time. Lanett’s May Day celebration took place inside the James A. Hardy Gym. Many police officers, firefighters, and other city employees were assembled on the gym’s new bleachers as approximately 20 seniors marched into the gym, each waving a U.S. flag. They were escorted to their seats near the center of the gym by the Lanett High JROTC flag corps under the direction of Lt. Co. (ret.) Chris McKinney.

The big crowd inside the gym gave them a rousing ovation. Each senior was wearing a light blue t-shirt with “Smile, Laugh, Love” in big letters on the back. Mattie Walker, who will celebrate her 94th birthday this month, led the way.

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The Reed Foundation donated the shirts, and Ray Gilbert provided the flags. Joe Wells of McDonald’s provided breakfast.

The program began with everyone standing for the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer from City Chaplain Rev. Rodney Jones. The crowd then sang along with a recorded version of “God Bless America.”

Senior Center Manager Sandra Thornton then addressed the crowd.

“Before COVID, as many as 335 senior centers across our state had an invitation to attend a May Day celebration in Talladega,” she said. “Many of the centers would take seniors there in buses, and everyone had a great time. It was an opportunity for the seniors to make new friends from all across Alabama. We haven’t done that for three years now because of the pandemic and the safety precautions, but the seniors have really missed it. We thought we’d have our own May Day celebration this year.”

Mayor Jamie Heard welcomed everyone and told the Lanett seniors to have fun. “You have been having so much fun that I think I should join you,” he said. “I am the right age. I love spending time with you, and I hope you win a lot of events today.”

The seniors competed for gold, silver and bronze trophies, playing cornhole, nerf and frisbee throw, checkers, dominoes, Rummikub and the Play Nine card game.

Recreation Director Trent McCants took on multiple seniors at one time in games of checkers.

Lanett High students Nautica Billingsley, Makayla Floyd, Amarion Sherman and Jeniyah Glaze comprised the JROTC flag corps. Lt. Col. McKinney addressed the crowd, telling everyone he appreciated their support. “My cadets are happy to be here today and participate in this program,” he said.

City Council Member Angelia Thomas said she was glad to be at the event. “We have a great group of seniors,” she said. “Some fun games have been lined up for you today. I wish you good luck in winning one of these trophies.”

Thornton thanked Executive Director Pastor John Frederick of the Reed Foundation for their help in sponsoring the May Day celebration.

“If there is anything we can do to help the seniors in Lanett, please let us know,” he said. “As long as God gives me the breath to serve, I will always serve seniors. I was fortunate enough to have been raised by some really special seniors. We want to treat the Greater Valley Area with love, respect and honor, especially our seniors and our youth.”

“We will be calling on you,” Thornton said, smiling broadly.

Recreation Director McCants thanked everyone for being there and had the honor of saying, “Let the games begin!”