KINGSTON —Frank Elick walked into the Kingston senior center on Thursday for the 40th anniversary celebration and a few women immediately taped a sign to his back.
“Female Wanted — Any Kind, Apply at Your Own Risk,” it read.
Elick and about 125 others enjoyed the celebration that featured lunch, camaraderie and musical memories provided by George Rittenhouse.
“It doesn’t hurt to advertise,” Elick said. “It’s all about fun. This is the best place I’ve ever come to. We laugh, sing and dance. It’s always fun here.”
And fun was had by all Thursday, proving, as Elick said, that laughter is the best medicine.
“We enjoy each other’s company,” he said. “And here, we always have friends.”
Margaret Craig, 82, of Swoyersville, has been coming to the Kingston center for 21 years.
“This is my second home,” Craig said.
Her husband, Weldon, died in 1993 and Craig started coming to the Kingston center to get out of the house and on with her life. She said she enjoys all the activities, like exercise, shuffleboard and bingo. She sings with the center’s gospel group, having performed at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Casino in Plains Township.
Craig said she has made many friends at the center. One in particular, Jack Granahan, is her “partner.” The two are “an item” and enjoy each other’s company at the center and away from the center.
Granahan, 82, has been coming to the center for more than three years since his wife, Ethel, passed away. He and Craig are inseparable.
“We go gambling,” he said. “We like to dine out — we love lobster.”
Craig quickly added, “We still have a lot of living to do.”
Trula Hollywood, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging, said the Kingston Active Adult Center was the second one to open in Luzerne County — the first one was the Charles Adams Center in Wilkes-Barre.
“You are what makes it happen,” Hollywood said. “There have been a lot of changes over the years, but you have remained faithful.”
Hollywood asked for a show of hands on how many are 10-year center attendees, and half the room raised their hands.
“The seniors deserve the credit,” she said. “And our managers and their staffs do such a great job.”
Hugh Rolf, 81, of Swoyersville, said he moved to the area from upstate New York after his wife passed away.
“I was welcomed here with open arms,” he said. “There are no mean people here.”
Rolf said he enjoys telling jokes and seeing people react with laughter. He said he loves people.
“When we have our downs and outs, we know we can come here and be received so well,” he said.
Rittenhouse provided the entertainment for the celebration, singing song after song that brought back memories to the seniors and smiles to their faces. As Rittenhouse sang, the crowd joined in, some clapping, others singing along and others dancing.
“I love to watch the reactions of people,” Rittenhouse said. “I love to see their eyes light up and they start tapping their toes or sing along. That’s like a standing ovation for me.”
Rittenhouse began with “Everybody Loves Somebody” and walked through the crowd, stopping at each table to hold hands with an adoring lady who sang with him.
Sandy Acornley, the center’s director of seven years, said the seniors really get into the programs and they love to have fun.
“They forget all their troubles when they’re here,” she said.