It was off to the races Tuesday morning as hundreds of area senior citizens gathered to celebrate the opening of the 2010 Carbon County Senior Games.

The kickoff celebration for the 22nd annual event was held at the Lehighton Recreation Center, Eighth and Iron streets. This year's teams include seniors from Panther Valley, Lehighton, Palmerton, Weatherly and Jim Thorpe/Penn Kidder senior centers.

The opening ceremony began with a presentation of colors by members of the Panther Valley JROTC and the singing of the national anthem by Jim Thorpe Idol winner Michael Trainer.

Anne Horrigan, coordinator of the games, welcomed everyone before introducing the guest speakers.

Lehighton borough manager John Wagner welcomed the participants to Lehighton and read a proclamation, signed by Lehighton Mayor Donald Rehrig, who was unable to attend.

Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek then addressed the seniors, saying that it was a pleasure to be at the games.

"We're glad we (Carbon County) could do this for the seniors," he said. "It's a great opportunity for everyone to get out and socialize and have some fun."

He also thanked Cheri Mae Santore, director of the Carbon County Area Agency on Aging; Horrigan; Victor Pituch, the director of the games; and the senior center managers and volunteers for making this annual event possible.

Commissioner Charles Getz said that he looks forward to the senior games because he enjoys seeing everyone.

"It's not whether you win or lose," Getz said. "It's that you participate and make friends."

He also thanked Pituch for organizing the games.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein recognized the new participants and said they are in for a real good time.

He also said that he is pleased with how many people came out for the games.

Santore shared her excitement for the games.

"This is fun," she said, adding that she looks forward to this part of her job every year.

Randall Smith, county administrator, added that he enjoys watching the games because he has made a lot of friends over the years.

He also talked about the importance of having the high school volunteers help.

He then announced that he will be rooting for his hometown of Jim Thorpe.

Pituch then took center stage. He thanked everyone who helped set everything up and talked about how lucky he is to be able to give back to the county.

Before the official opening of the 2010 Senior Games, Horrigan led the participants in the Senior Games Oath and officially opened the games with the usual saying, "Let the games begin!"

The 2010 Carbon County Senior Games will continue through May 13 for county residents age 60 and older. Locations for this year's events include the Lehighton Recreation Center, Panther Valley High School, Terpstra's, Jim Thorpe/Penn Kidder Senior Center, Go-Fore-Hole, Cypress Lanes, Fritz's Lanes and Baer Memorial Field.

Editor's Note: Daily results of the 2010 Carbon County Senior Games will be published in the TIMES NEWS. Grab a copy every day to see who is leading this year's competition.