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Playing it safe: Welcome to Sept. 16 drive-through event

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Organizers of Senior Fun Day in Carroll County were looking forward to celebrating the event’s milestone fifth anniversary by making it bigger and better than ever.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and there was doubt whether Senior Fun Day would be held at all. But organizers became determined to find a way to offer the event.

“Well, obviously it’s going to be different,” said Jane Lawler, a member of the Carroll Area Nursing Service marketing team who also serves on the committee that spearheads Senior Fun Day. “We discussed not having it because everything was canceling. I said, ‘I don’t think we should do that. I truly think we can do this safely. These poor people have been in the house for months. Some of them have no interaction with anybody.’ ”

So in order to make Senior Fun Day work and avoid health risk, it’s been changed this year from an indoor event at the Carroll Recreation Center to a drive-through at the Swan Lake State Park Conservation Education Center parking lot. Senior Fun Day will be from 10 a.m. until noon Wednesday, Sept. 16. Visitors are urged to stay in their vehicles, wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

Participation is free, and a limited number of goodie bags will be given to the first senior visitors. The reusable bags will be filled with prizes, gift cards and information about services provided by the many agencies that host the event. Those include Amerigroup Iowa; Accura HealthCare of Carroll; Carroll Area Nursing Service; Elderbridge Agency on Aging; Hospice of the Midwest; Journey Senior Services; Kindred Hospice; Manning Senior Living Assisted Living and Memory Care; Regency Park Nursing and Rehabilitation; Relay Iowa; RSVP and Foster Grandparents Program; St. Anthony Regional Hospital, Home Health, Hospice, Nursing Home, Garden View and Orchard View; SunnyBrook of Carroll Assisted Living and Memory Care; Swan Place Assisted Living; and United Health Care.

Special recognition will be given military veterans who visit Senior Fun Day.

In addition, Secure Shred Solutions will provide a contactless shredding drop-off, where visitors can discard items such as medical records, cancelled checks, junk mail, tax returns, magazines, bank statements, phone books and more.

Senior Fun Day evolved from the Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (SALT) meetings held years ago, Lawler said.

She added, “There’s a children’s fair (CarrollFest) every year at Graham Park. We decided, ‘Let’s do something like that to celebrate the seniors, but not a health fair.’ ”

Over the years, Senior Fun Day — held at the Carroll Armory the first year and the Rec Center the last three years — has included prizes, activities such as bingo, guest speakers and entertainment.

“We want to acknowledge senior citizens, let them know they’re an important part of the community,” Lawler said. “They contribute in many ways, and we really appreciate them and want to acknowledge them.

“By the same token, we want to let them know what’s out there to assist them. Sometimes people don’t know what’s out there, and there’s something that would be really beneficial to them that they’re not aware of. So it’s a good time for them to ask questions and get information.”

Michelle Klocke, marketing director at Regency Park and a member of the event’s planning committee, recalled that nearly 200 people attended the inaugural Senior Fun Day, and turnout has remained strong every year.

“We’ve always been really happy with the outcome,” she said.

Klocke said the gift cards in the goodie bags carry even more significance this year.

“We really want to support our local businesses, because they’ve all been hit hard due to the COVID,” she said. “All the gift cards are from restaurants or stores in Carroll County. We just want to help boost the economy a little bit and make sure people don’t have to travel any farther than necessary to still go out and enjoy some prizes. They’re going to have tons of information in the goodie bags as well if they should ever need any services, so lots of good stuff.”

RSVP Director Stacy Venteicher said, “RSVP staff and I are excited to be part of Senior Fun Day. I like that we are still able to offer something for seniors, while not like the traditional event due to COVID-19, but still something fun along with great information.”

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