By Joel Hall
Senior citizens, from around the area, gathered at Clayton County International Park on Friday to exercise, learn, and get down with their bad selves.
The Clayton County Senior Services Department hosted its annual Mayfest celebration Friday, in observance of national Older Americans Month.
The event, which brought together more than 700 people this year, gave seniors a chance to shake their bodies, walk, stretch, socialize, and gain valuable health information through a series of helpful and enjoyable activities.
Clayton County Assistant Senior Services Director Tori Strawter said the county has been hosting Mayfest for nearly a decade, as a way to help seniors focus on mental, physical, and spiritual health.
She said the event is designed to be fun as well as informative.
"We tried to look at the total aspect of seniors aging well," Strawter said. " A lot of seniors don't get out as much as they used to. We want to make sure that our seniors are aware of all the services that are available to them."
As in past years, this year's Mayfest included a competitive walk, dozens of health vendors, entertainment, giveaways, and a free, healthy lunch for all participants.
New this year, were Salsa and Zumba classes ( a type of aerobic exercise incorporating Salsa and other Latin dances), a performance by magician and comedian, Arthur Atsma, a step show performance by the Rex Mill Middle School Steppers, and emcee duties handled by Darryn Moore, of WSB-TV.
Prizes and medals were awarded to seniors who fared the best during competitive exercise.
Peggy Mostrom, 65, who has attended Mayfest every year since its inception, said the event helps keep her going.
"When I was young, I went to the recreation center, and now that I am old, I go to the senior center for the same reason ... As long as you keep your mind and body moving, you are going to make it. My mama always told me that a moving target is harder to hit."
Willie Ross, 80, of Morrow, said that Mayfest helps him and other seniors focus on the positives of getting old.
"It really takes away the depression, I'll tell you that," Ross said. "It's more like family. Everybody seems like they know each other [at Mayfest], eventhough they don't. I think it will improve our health, mentally and physically."
Clayton Commissioner Michael Edmondson, whose district encompasses International Park, said this year's Mayfest had the highest attendance in its history. He said the event is an example of the effort the county makes to improve life for seniors.
"With all of the resources we have, it's [Clayton County has] been a great place to retire," Edmondson said. "I think we have so many seniors, because we have so much to offer to seniors. The thing that is so exciting about Mayfest is that there is a focus on health and wellness. People are dancing in the aisles and having fun. Today is all about a love for life, and having fun with it."