Clayton senior citizens to celebrate with 'Mayfest'

With a week to go before the Clayton County Senior Services Department hosts the county's annual "Mayfest" celebration for local senior citizens, attendance is already looking to be higher than last year, said the senior services official planning the event.

As of Thursday afternoon, 500 local seniors had registered to take part in this year's "Mayfest," according to Clayton County Assistant Director of Senior Services Tori Strawter. Last year, only 300 people had registered as of a week before the event, she said. Strawter added that a total of approximately 700 people attended the event last year.

"Mayfest" will be held on May 14, from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., at Clayton County International Park's St. Martin Pavilion. The park is located at 2300 Ga. Hwy. 138, in Jonesboro. "We're expecting at least 800 people to show up this year, at least, that's our goal," Strawter said.

"Mayfest," as the name suggests, is traditionally celebrated during the month of May, which is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging's national Older Americans Month.

The theme for this year's Older Americans Month is "Age Strong! Live Strong!" according to the administration's web site.

To promote health, and wellness among the senior citizens who participate in the event, instructors from Clayton's senior centers will be present to talk about their classes, whether it be tai chi, or quilting, according to Strawter. "We're focusing on health and wellness, which includes recreation," she said. She added that the instructors will also lead group exercise sessions.

Strawter also said there will be a competitive walk, and a competitive run, as well as a pole-walking demonstration. "Seniors are really into pole-walking right now, because they do not have to worry about losing their balance while they walk," she said.

Additionally, local dance groups will be on hand to give salsa, and Zumba demonstrations, Strawter said. "We're trying to build interest in those dances, because we would like to add them at our senior centers," she said.

According to the Administration on Aging's web site, Older Americans Month was started in 1963, as "Senior Citizens Month," and gained its current name from a 1980 proclamation from President Jimmy Carter.

On Tuesday, Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eldrin Bell issued a proclamation, calling senior citizens the county's "Most treasured resources," and designating May, locally, as Older Americans Month.

"The older adults in Clayton County deserve recognition for the contributions they have made, and will continue to make to the culture, economy, and character of our community, and out nation," the written proclamation stated.

Strawter said people who wish to participate in "Mayfest" can register at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center, which is located at Clayton County International Park, or at the Frank Bailey Senior Center, which is located at 6213 Riverdale Road, in Riverdale.

She said there will also be a registration table at the event. There is an optional registration cost of $5. Strawter said that anyone who does not pay the fee will not receive a "Mayfest" T-shirt.