Strawberry Festival Senior Day makes triumphant return Friday

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(Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – “I’m just happy to be anywhere these days,” laughed Ben Kerny as he walked into Friday’s celebration of the Strawberry Festival Senior Day.

He and hundreds of Cullman seniors descended on the Active Adult Center in Cullman, celebrating their triumphant return after the event was put on hold for the last two years due to the COVID pandemic.

Long stretches of tables were packed full of vibrant kids at heart as they shared lunch and stories, catching up after their years apart. Old friends were found and embraced, and new friends were made. Laughter and fun were found everywhere you turned.

Stephanie Neal, senior program coordinator at the Active Adult Center, watched the attendees with a smile of appreciation.

“I think the seniors missed getting out and socializing with one another after being on quarantine for so long. They were without their friends during that time so being able to be together again is what they tell me means the most. We are happy to be a part of giving them that opportunity.”

Neal continued, “On a day-to-day basis, they hang out together at the senior centers. Any chance we can give them to be together, dance, eat and fellowship, they love. Our seniors love that the Strawberry Festival Senior Day has special events tailored just for them. It makes them feel special. After all the years of work and service our seniors have put in, today is their special day. I think they appreciate that.”

Quick with a joke and smile, Milford Baker shared, “I just happy to be alive! I always come to the Senior Day at the Strawberry Festival. After we were down for the past two years, I’m happy to be back here with my friends.”

Emcee Mark Aderhold kept the crowd entertained. The festival included a “Best Strawberry Themed Outfit Contest,” buck dancing competition and the ever-popular games of Bingo. Several Hee Haw skits had the crowd in stitches. Live music by the talented group The Fairlanes had many couples cutting a rug while even more participated in line dancing.

Brenda Kerny, smiling broadly, shared, “We love to come to the Senior Day celebration. We love to spend time with other seniors and enjoy the fellowship we have together.”

Health Promotion Coordinator for the Cullman County Commission on Aging Ava King spoke of how important socializing is to Cullman County elders and how the commission is working to bring them together again.

“Our seniors spent so much time stuck at home during COVID. Our biggest goal was to get them out and back together again. They spent so long with the senior centers closed and then we opened back up but there were still restrictions. The events have been very important to get everyone together again. We have several plans to make that happen. We had our Easter egg hunt last month and the Senior Fishing Day in Hanceville a couple of weeks ago. They love to be together and we’re going to make that happen as much as possible.

Senior Day was sponsored by Drinkard Development, Affinity Hospice and Walmart Distribution.

View the photo gallery here.

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