Seniors pack house for annual picnic tradition
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Sat., Aug. 13, 2011
Approximately 200 senior citizens turned out for the annual Senior Picnic at the Riverfront Community Center on Aug. 10. The day began with a setback tournament, followed by music from The Digger Stevens Band.
Boston Market helped provide the barbecue chicken lunch, and a Bingo tournament followed. Glastonbury Parks and Recreation Department staffers, led by Recreation Supervisor Anna Park, served as waiters, waitresses and food servers.
Although Parks staff said the tradition of the picnic goes back for decades, no one could pinpoint when or how it got started. Parks and Rec. Director Ray Purtell came closest. “It was in the early '80s, and used to be at Hubbard Green,” Purtell said. “It was hamburgers, hot dogs and salads, and the summer playground staff would work it.”
Purtell said that after a few years, Dominic Saglio of Arbor Acres (then a chicken farm) brought helpers and the event became a chicken barbecue.
“They used to have these stainless steel cooking pits,” he said. “They would cook chickens for 400 people.”
After the Arbor Acres farm went out of business, Park sought help from Boston Market, and the event moved to the Riverfront Community Center soon after it opened.
“We just did it for years and years, so we just continued it – it's a nice tradition,” Purtell said, adding that the social aspect for seniors is another main component. “Everyone is active and socializing,” he said.