By Tony Parra
There were many smiles and laughs when the Roosevelt County Senior Olympics kicked off the week of local events with the potato relays on Monday in Los Abuelitos Senior Citizens Center.
Mary Lucero, director of Los Abuelitos Senior Citizens Center and coordinator of the Senior Citizens Olympics, said she has coordinated the event for eight years and for the most part the events have taken place annually since 1986, except for last year.
“We didn’t have any participants last year, so we didn’t have senior olympics,” a disappointed Lucero said. “But this year we have 23 participants and it’s been a lot of fun.”
VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) Member Cindy Montano has helped coordinate this year’s Roosevelt County Senior olympics. Montano said she was the only VISTA member in Roosevelt County.
Lucero said the participants who finish in first place will qualify for the state senior olympics, which take place in Las Cruces from August 4-8. Lucero said the competitors who place first in Las Cruces will qualify for the National Senior Olympics.
There will be events throughout the week. The first event on Monday was the potato race. There were teams of two, three and four who raced from one side of the room to another. Each contestant carried a medium-sized potato on a spoon and walked it to the next team member on the other side of the room.
“I like it a lot,” Guadalupe Arco-Amarillo, one of the contestants said. “It’s fun to talk to other people and (there are) friendships you develop. The balloon races are a lot of fun, too.”
The next contestant would carefully grab the spoon with the potato and walk it back to the other end for the next member of the team. Coordinators of the event would keep track of how many times the team members went back and forth across the room and how many times they dropped the potato.
Arco-Amarillo and her teammate, Connie Thomas, didn’t drop the potato during the relays. One of their teammates did have problems during the hand-offs.
“It’s not too hard, it (potato) just rolled off in the hand-offs,” Mary Robinson, who is participating in her first senior olympics, said. “We had a car wash and everybody came to it. Everyone takes part and has a lot of fun in the events.”
Robinson and Arco-Amarillo said they will both participate in the frisbee competitions. According to Robinson, she is also going to help in coordinating the 8-ball tournament.
“I’m loving it (senior olympics),” Robinson said. “We’ll do anything they (olympics’ coordinators) ask us to do, happily.”
The balloon popping event took place after the potato relays.
There will also be an 8-ball pool tournament today at 1 p.m. and a polka dance on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Throughout the week there will be other competitions such as the horseshoes contest, table tennis and frisbee tosses.
“We have a mix of people who have participated in previous years and newcomers,” Lucero said. “Anybody over the age of 50 from Roosevelt County can participate in it. It’s healthy for them and they get to meet different people.”
The final day of competition is on April 26 with events such as dominoes, cycling, shuffleboard and basketball throws. The closing ceremonies will take place on April 30.