County’s seniors enjoy annual gathering

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The Washington County Senior Picnic last Friday took place for the first time since 2019, with some 240 attendees, including Mettowee Valley Patriots (above), representing Granville, expected to take part in the festivities. One senior noted 'It's just so good to see everyone.' (All photos by Austin Crosier)

A day full of events, food and music to recognize and acknowledge the senior citizens that make up the 17 townships in Washington County took place on July 22 at the Washington County Fairgrounds.

The Washington County Senior Picnic occurred for the first time since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and Washington county Office for the Aging director Gina Cantanucci-Mitchell could not have been happier to organize the event that “combats isolation and brings people together.”

“This is an emotional experience right now for me,” Cantanucci-Mitchell said. “To not have this event the last two years has been detrimental.”

The picnic went from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with 350 attendees expected to take part in festivities. Music from the Senior Center of Kingsbury/Fort Edward Ukulele Orchestra and a speech by New York State 107th District Assemblyman Jake Ashby kicked off the day.

Ashby told NYVTmedia that the celebration had a level of extra importance to him as he was raised in a household with his grandmother always present. He looks to rely on the input and experiences of the older members of the 43rd Senate District in his campaign this fall.

“My mother took care of my grandmother and I saw what that meant as a family and how that can impact a family. And over the last couple of years through the pandemic, everyone has been so isolated and I think that’s been especially hard on our seniors and it’s so important for us to have the opportunity to come together and meet and for the vendors here to be able to show the services that they provide,” Ashby said.

“For people’s mental health, for preparation for their future and to continue to strengthen and tie those bonds to our seniors, it’s vital.”

Close to two-dozen vendors were set up at the picnic informing senior-citizens of options, alternatives and services that they might not have been aware of beforehand.

Line-dancers and raffles also made up part of the entertainment for the day, including musical entertainment by Bobby Dick and Susie Q and an ice cream social.

Granville supervisor Matt Hicks was excited for the Granville representatives (the Mettowee Valley Patriots) taking part in games like ladderball, corn hole, ring toss and more, as he has attended the picnic every year that he has been a town supervisor (12 years).

“There’s a real sense of community within the senior citizens of Granville, but they get the chance to intermingle with other senior citizens in Washington County for some friendly competition,” Hicks said. “There’s always a connection you can make, older and younger, because of several generations that are still in Granville.”

Leader for the Mettowee Valley Patriots team and Mettowee Valley Senior Citizens president Carol McGivern said it was vital for in-person interaction for senior-citizens in rural upstate New York and was cherishing the opportunity to be back together with familiar faces.

“It’s about the freedom of the lockdowns we’ve been through the past few years,” McGivern said. “We need to see faces. It’s a way to get with all of the other groups.”

Mettowee Valley Senior Citizens member Irene Bowen commented as well, saying the pandemic built up an urge and desire to interact with others socially.

“I think everybody is just bursting at the seams because we’ve been locked up for so long, and it’s so good to see everyone,” Bowen said.

Take a look at the gallery of photos taken by reporter Austin Crosier at the event.