Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Picnic Celebrates County's Seniors; Bryceville: Annual Event Part of Older Americans Month

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Picnic Celebrates County's Seniors; Bryceville: Annual Event Part of Older Americans Month

Article excerpt

Byline: Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

East met west Tuesday as the Nassau County Council on Aging held its annual countywide picnic for the county's senior citizens.

While the council has sponsored the event marking Older Americans Month for about two decades, this is the first time the event has been in Bryceville, said Ann Lloyd, program coordinator for the council's senior center in Hilliard.

Frances Kelley and Dorothy Thiers, both of Callahan, were nodding their heads in time to the music as gospel singers Ken and Brenda Macy launched into a rousing version of I'll Fly Away.

Kelley, who's been to previous editions of the countywide picnic, said she loves them.

"It's nice to get out of the house and meet some of the other people from Fernandina Beach," she said.

This was the first countywide party for Alice Waitkunas of Amelia Island, who said older people like to get together and have fun just as much as younger people do.

"We're like the forgotten people," Waitkunas said.

Council on Aging officials said their annual party is a chance to celebrate the county's senior citizens.

"We want to recognize them in a special way, it being Older Americans Month," Council Executive Assistant Chris Ward said. "We want to let them know they're extra special. It is their month."

According to the Administration on Aging Web site, the United States has honored its older residents during May since 1963, when President John F. Kennedy designated the month as Senior Citizens Month. President Jimmy Carter changed the name to Older Americans Month in 1980.

The exact year the Nassau County Council on Aging, which was founded in 1973, began sponsoring some kind of event to mark Older Americans Month is less clear, but Ward estimated the council has done it for 20 years.

The event has evolved over time from its beginnings as a covered dish luncheon organized by the senior citizens to Tuesday's affair with music, fried chicken and ice cream. …

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