Senior Games canceled this year

Senior Games participants like Sonny Kaufmann will not be able to compete in this year’s version of the event because it has been canceled because of low registration.

Justin Hotop

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered, postponed, or canceled many events in the area over the past few months. It can add another event to the list this week. The 20th edition of the Southeast Missouri Senior Games hosted at the Perry Park Center will not go on as scheduled this year.
The event was set for August 5-8 in Perryville, but League and Fitness Supervisor Kaelin Casasola said that the number of participates registered was too low to merit the event go on as planned.
“I think that as of the early bird registration on July 10, we had just 20 people signed up,” Casasola said. “With something as big as the senior games, it didn’t seem right to have that few people participate, it also wouldn’t be fun for those involved either. The low sign-ups was most likely because of the virus.”
Participants range in age from 50 to one participant who was in his mid-90s, last year, that compete in nearly 60 events over the four-day event. Events range from softball accuracy throws, to numerous swimming and track events. Of all the age groups that participant, the age group with the most participants falls within the 75-80 age range. Casasola noted that it would not be safe for participants to compete.
“This event centers around that 50-plus age crowd and those are the people who are at the highest risk,” Casasola said. “We looked at everything, and came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be the smartest idea to hold the event.”
While the senior games may not be the Park Center’s largest event it holds every year, in terms of attendance, the Father-Daughter dance boasts 450 attendees each year.
It is certainly one of the longest events on the calendar, which starts on a Wednesday and runs through Saturday, with the track events.
A majority of the participants come from out of town such as St. Louis, and even out of state, like Illinois, Texas or Indiana in 2019.
The event usually has 100-120 participants each year.
“When you think about it, people get hotel rooms and stay in town for possibly every day, that’s people who eat at our restaurants and things like that,” Casasola said. “That just another downside to not having the senior games.”
All those things affect the city of Perryville, but the senior games are one of Casasola’s favorite events the Park Center puts on each year, which she will miss.
“I love seeing the returning participants every year and seeing the new faces and making those relationships during the games,” Casasola said.
She has been asked by multiple people if there is any chance for the event to be pushed back later in the year, and possibly just postponed.
“With the size of the event and how much work it takes to, it would be too hard to do that,” Casasola said. “We will focus on next year and come back better for 2021.”


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