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Rockin’ seniors


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Alton Strupp | The Republic - Bob Henrich works out in the Columbus Regional Hospital fitness area of Mill Race Center with the help of The Wellness Center trainer Todd Hostetler. The fitness center is one factor behind membership growth at Mill Race.
Alton Strupp | The Republic - Bob Henrich works out in the Columbus Regional Hospital fitness area of Mill Race Center with the help of The Wellness Center trainer Todd Hostetler. The fitness center is one factor behind membership growth at Mill Race.


Talk about your changes in attitudes and changes in lattitudes.

Mill Race Center, an agency that still had a shuffleboard court until a few years ago, will morph into Margaritaville today.

A Jimmy Buffett-themed party and open house will be from 4 to 6 p.m. at the center, 900 Lindsey St. Organizers are encouraging those planning to attend to wear T-shirts, hats and nautical novelties that would fit the spirit of the event.

Embracing topical content from lighthearted Buffett songs, organizers will serve maragaritas, both virgin and alcoholic, and also feature what they have labeled as cheeseburgers in paradise.

“It should be a lot of fun,” said Bob Pitman, executive director of the center, which primarily serves people 50 and older.

For several years now, Pitman and his staff have worked to attract younger seniors to the facility, which has more than 2,000 members. They’re doing that through classes in subjects such as tai chi and guitar, health presentations and bus trips, and by planning trips to concerts such as Blue Man Group in Cincinnati.

Mill Race member Kristy Gron, 69, likes the idea of the party. She believes more younger seniors would be involved in activities at the center if they knew of offerings there and saw the fellowship.

“But you sometimes hear people say, ‘Oh, I can do this or that at home,’” said Gron, a retired registered nurse. “This, though, is a great place to meet new people.”

Her husband, Gary Gron, smiled when told that, in years past, some people in their early 50s were reluctant to join because they didn’t see themselves as seniors.

“Maybe they could have a secret entrance,” he said facetiously.

Sixty-two-year-old Carol Wentz attended a health class the other day at Mill Race. She said she definitely would attend the Buffett party if she weren’t already having company that afternoon.

Cindy Chodan, the center’s program and membership coordinator, said today’s theme provides a wide-ranging attraction.

“Jimmy Buffett appeals to everyone from college age to almost 99 years old,” she said with a chuckle.

Chodan added that those attending today will find activities for adults on the move. As she mentioned this, a volunteer chimed in that the center features nary a single rocking chair.

“Oh, we rock,” Chodan said, “but in a different way.”

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