Thursday was the perfect end to the 2012 Carbon County Senior Games.
Over 130 participants from Weatherly, Panther Valley, Lehighton, Jim Thorpe and Palmerton attended a banquet at Mahoning Valley Ambulance Hall to recognize the winner of the games, as well as reminisce with friends about memories that were made during the eight-day event. Southern Carbon County, comprised of Lehighton and Palmerton seniors, placed first with a score of 827.
As the banquet began, Anne Horrigan, coordinator of the games, welcomed and thanked everyone for making the games another successful year.
"Thank you for being such good sports," she said, adding that next year, she expects every participant to bring one friend.
She went over some highlights of games, including that this year, a total of 206 seniors participated.
Following her welcome, Horrigan turned over the presentation to Carbon County Commissioners Wayne Nothstein, Thomas J. Gerhard, William O'Gurek, who addressed the participants and thanked them for making the games such a success
Nothstein said all the participants were winners.
"I can't believe this is over already," he said. "I am looking forward to next year."
Nothstein added that he plans to join the Lehighton team next year as a participant.
Gerhard congratulated everyone and said he was impressed by the turnout for the games.
"It wasn't about winning a medal," Gerhard said. "It was about you getting together and making new friends. Thank you."
O'Gurek sent greetings from former Commissioner Charles Getz, who was an advocate for the games, but was unable to participate this year.
He jokingly suggested that next year, because Lehighton dominates the games with participants, maybe it should be Lehighton versus Weatherly, Palmerton, Panther Valley and Jim Thorpe. Many participants cheered in response.
"We are glad everyone had a good time," O'Gurek added.
Cheri Santore, director of the Carbon County Area Agency on Aging, then addressed the audience, thanking everyone for their support to make the games possible.
"I love to see this grow everY year," she said, adding a challenge of her own to teams.
"Everyone have a Chinese auction," she said, adding that Panther Valley raised $1,000 for the games through their auction.
Horrigan then thanked her staff for everything they did to help make the games go off without a hitch.
Following the guest speakers, Victor Pituch, director of the games, awarded representatives from the Southern Carbon County Team with a plaque honoring Lehighton for its winning record over the years, which will hang in the Lehighton Senior Center; and then with the Commissioners Cup trophy.
Pituch then spoke briefly to everyone, stating that he is glad he has had such amazing people there to help him organize this growing event.
"These were the best ever," Pituch said.
He then read some words of inspiration by author Ira Byock, who stated that there are 11 words that could make a difference in this world. They are: I forgive you, please forgive me, I love you, and thank you.
"If we all lived everyday saying theM, we would have a better place to live, and we would get along so well," Pituch read.
The Rev. Canon Doris S. Bray then provided the invocation before the meal was served and entertainment by the Perseverance Jazz Band began.
Some newcomers to the games; as well as old pros also weighed in on the events.
"It was fun," LaRae Hlavaty of Lehighton said.
"I loved it and am looking forward to coming back next year," said Karl Sheckler of Lehighton.
James Kindrew of Palmerton noted that this was his second year.
"It's a lot of fun. I wish I would have done it sooner," he said. "It's fantastic to see older people out there trying their best."
Kindrew was highlighted during the games for bowling a 300 during the bowling event on Tuesday.
Newcomer Irma Leibensperger of the Panther Valley team, said she wished she would have participated sooner than this year.
"I thought they were great," she said. "Everyone had a great time. I think everyone should get involved. I had such a wonderful time. I haven't done some of these things in 40 or 50 years and it felt good to do them again."
Brenda Zellers of Weatherly added that she enjoyed the games.
Irene Boscia of the Jim Thorpe team, who has participated for the last five years, said she always enjoys the games.
"It was fantastic," she said, adding that she commends the organizers for making the event perfect. "I will definitely be back next year."
The Senior Games began in 1988 under the direction of Pituch and has grown over the years. Next year will mark the game's 25th anniversary.