Twenty years ago Peggy Arness and Joanna Hollier started the Old Timers Turkey Dinner at the Kenai Senior Center to gather those who had helped build this community for an afternoon of fellowship and recollection of the days gone by. Last year Peggy and Joanna decided to turn the organizing of the event over to the next generation. Kenai Mayor Pat Porter stepped up to be sure the event would continue. “It’s such a celebration of our whole community and the recognition of the old timers that made it what it is today. It’s like an early Thanksgiving dinner where we give thanks for those who have made this such a great place to live,” said Porter. Director of the Kenai Senior Center Rachael Craig said this year’s event turned out over 225 folks for dinner and is indicative of the increase demand at the center, “We are seeing needs for expansion of the senior center. Our senior population is growing in our area. It’s a popular area for people who want to retire and I’d say we’ve seen a 10% to 15% growth this year. We are offering more activities than ever before that Carol Bannock is coordinating. Everything from wellness and exercise classes, Spanish classes, writing classes and many other activities just to mention a few so we may need to look at expansion in the not too distant future. It’s time for our elders to start talking about what they want here at the center in the future. Our elders are important to our community and I think this is an awesome facility in our city. It’s a statement of our city that we take care of our youth and we take care of our elders. I have to say this foundation was started by Pat Porter and we’ll carry on her legacy and see it continue to grow in the future,” said Craig in an interview.
The entertainment from the kids came from song whose lyric was penned by Renee Henderson and sung to the melody of “She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain.” Some of the verses were: “They were coming to the Kenai when they came (when they came). They were coming to the Kenai, they were coming to the Kenai, they were coming to the Kenai when they came. They were coming ‘round the mountains when they came (when they came). Moose, bear and fishin’ salmon, caribou and on to clamin’ They were coming ‘round the mountains when they came. The Kenaitze were here to help them when they came (when they came).
Yes the Kenaitze were here to help them, the Kenaitze were here to help them the Kenaitze were here to help them when they came. Population was 360 when they came (when they came).
Kenai River was so perfect, Kenai River was so perfect, Kenai River was so perfect when they came.”
The major event scheduled for the Kenai Senior Center will be the 2016 Fall Fest, Thursday, September 22nd in cooperation with the Kenaitze Indian Tribe. For more information call the Center or the Tribe or log on to their website.