Harrisburg seniors shine in county competition, head to North Carolina Senior Games
By Christie Barlow
Harrisburg will be well represented when its residents head to Raleigh to compete in the State Senior Games competition.
So far, around 47 Cabarrus County competitors have signed up to make the trip, said Joan Swaringen, the aging programs coordinator for the Cabarrus County Department of Aging. Last year 60 Cabarrus County residents competed in the games, and Swaringen expects this year’s number to continue to increase, she said.
Swaringen said many residents go to Raleigh even though they aren’t competing. They go to events to cheer on their friends, Swaringen said.
This year, those who are competing will participate in everything from spin casting, to golf and comedy performances. So far Mike and Malli Plowman, Mary Gilmer, Bill and Mary Caudle, Sylvia Lowder and Phil Lovelace will compete in Raleigh.
For Mike and Malli the senior games are a chance to hang out with friends and put their love of fishing into practice. This year both the Plowmans won their individual spin casting events and represent Cabarrus County at the state competition.
“The competition is fun,” said Malli. “It’s great seeing all the energy that people in their 80s and 90s have. They’re still out there having fun.”
In spin casting, competitors try to land the weight on the end of their fishing line in a box placed 30, 40 or 50 feet away. They score points based on how close they get to the box. Even though the Plowmans are competing in Raleigh, their main focus is on enjoying the time they get to spend with friends. Neither Mike nor Malli are concerned with the outcome of their event, they said.
“We love being around all our friends,” Malli said. “We love going to Raleigh and the opening ceremonies is so much fun. It’s like the senior equivalent of spring break.”
Mary Gilmer is also heading to Raleigh for the competition, where she will perform in the large comedy division. This is Glimers’ fourth time attending the competition in Raleigh and she has been part of the Senior Games since they first started in Cabarrus County.
Gilmer and several other ladies wear white body suits and leggings and brightly colored tutus to perform a dance to Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers.” Their performance has them dancing around with an oversized bumblebee and audiences laughing, said Gilmer. The group took the best in show award to qualify for the competition in Raleigh.
“I was so surprised I almost had a heart attack,” Gilmer said about the win.
Gilmer said she hopes her group performs well at the state competition, but is really looking forward to the camaraderie the competition brings. Swaringen said most of those who compete share a similar attitude with Gilmer and the Plowmans. The Cabarrus County group is more focused on having fun than winning. She said they’re one of the liveliest bunches in Raleigh.
“People know when Cabarrus County shows up because they have more fun when they get there,” Swaringen said.
• Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.