It was 30 years ago today that the Great Bend Senior Center served its first meal.
Site manager Rozena Tomlin said that with grants secured by the city, the former Phillips Sporting Goods store at 2005 Kansas Ave. became a gathering place for senior citizens on Dec. 15, 1987.
The site opened with few frills, Tomlin recalled.
“It didn’t have carpet. It just had a painted cement floor.”
On Thursday, the center held its annual Christmas party, serving a lunch of baked ham, sweet potatoes, Prince Edward vegetables and pumpkin pie cake. Sixty people eat lunch at the center on an average day, but more than 130 were there for the party, which included drawings for prizes, refreshments and music presented by the two fourth-grade classes at Lincoln Elementary School.
Lincoln music teacher Sharon Jelinek led the children through several Christmas tunes, including “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” That tune ranks fourth on the list of most downloaded Christmas songs, Jelinkey told the audience.
Audience member C.W. Butler said he enjoyed watching the children sing and he especially enjoyed watching Jelinek teaching and leading them through the program. “She really brought it out in those kids.”
Another audience member was Larry Reed. Several of the fourth graders remembered him as their former crossing guard at Lincoln Elementary. As the program ended, children waived at Reed across the room, and he waved back.
The senior center is typically a place for socializing during and after lunch. Several people wished a happy 86th birthday Thursday to Joe Boley, who was at the head table with his wife Darlene and some friends.
Tomlin did not recall where seniors in Great Bend gathered before 1987, but she said there were Friendship Meals served before then. The Dominican Sisters convent and Central Baptist Church were previous sites for senior lunches, she said.