Rain dampens no one’s spirit at annual senior citizens’ picnic

The 28th annual Senior Citizens Picnic went off without a hitch, despite menacing skies and a little rain at the Doyle Pavilion at Riverbank Park on Passaic Avenue on Wednesday, June 13.

A town favorite for nearly three decades, the seniors didn’t let the poor weather affect their chance to dance, enter to win the many raffle prizes or enjoy free food. Most enjoy that, but every senior had the same answer when it came to why they attend the picnic.

“I like to meet a lot of people and make new friends. I enjoy being sociable,” Kearny resident Jorge Miller said.

The picnic started 28 years ago under the-late Mayor Henry Hill right outside Town Hall. It offered only cake and soda as refreshments for the senior citizens back then, according to Third Ward Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle, who has been organizing the event since the-late ‘90s.

Doyle, much like Miller, feels as if the togetherness of the event is what keeps it going annually and makes it so successful.

“Community improvement is the main goal. I think it just brings our community together. You can see there is all different ethnic groups, we just have everybody here,” Doyle said.

Doyle says the number of attendees varies from year to year, but it’s usually around 300. That appeared to stay true this year, as even in the rain, the seniors enjoyed grilled burgers and hot dogs — and listening to the old-time music they enjoy, as senior Sabina Alzza put it.

As the rain slowly increased, the raffles began, with the biggest prize of the day being a brand new TV. Mayor Alberto G. Santos even made an appearance to greet the seniors and read off some of the raffle winners.

While the names were read, and those who couldn’t hear the announcements angrily shushed the crowd, resident Ruth Fadeski was taken aback when asked if the rain had any effect on her decision to be there.

“It’s not pouring, I’m not going to melt,” Fadeski asserted.

Around the park, tables were set up for the Visiting Angels and Alzheimer’s Association with pamphlets and information for any senior citizens interested. Doyle believes having these groups at the picnic makes it easier for those seeking help or information.

Kearny resident Anna Marie considers the openness of the picnic and dedication the town puts into the picnic to be reasons for its continued success.

“They organize it really well and they put a lot of effort into making the seniors comfortable. The town is always looking to do something for the seniors,” she said.

As the music continued to blast, and the crowd favorite Mr. Softee truck had not yet arrived, that hardly stopped the attendees from chatting with friends and walking around with smiles from ear-to-ear.

As the day began to conclude, Fadeski gave a fairly blunt response on whether she would return to the picnic in the coming years.

“If I’m still upright. If I still can, I would definitely love to,” she said.

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