Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected to the proper spelling of Nita Douthit’s name.
Bowling with a Wii remote doesn’t hold a candle to real bowling, according to Ray Nickelson.
However, the senior citizen still took a swing at it, jiggling the remote trying to get the ball to roll straight down the lane toward the virtual pins. He groaned when the shiny green ball failed to make a strike, taking out only nine pins.
Up next, Nita Douthit had more luck. The remotes are sensitive enough to detect turning of the wrist, so she was careful to roll the ball straight forward and was rewarded with another strike. A cheer went up from the small crowd behind her, including from Nickelson.
“To me, this stuff is for the birds,” Nickelson said. “I’m used to bowling with, you know, a ball.”
Nickelson and Douthit were among a group of senior citizens gathered in the sunny Kenai Senior Center Tuesday for the opening events of the Senior Olympics. The annual event is now in its 12th year and includes events from pool to bridge to a walk-a-thon at the Peninsula Center Mall stretched over five days.
When the events began, there were 80 people signed up, said Bonnie Cain, one of the organizers this year. However, she wants it to grow even more.
“Next year, we’re hoping for 100 people,” she said.
The events include participants from senior centers in Soldotna, Kenai, Sterling and Nikiski, but seniors from as far away as Ninilchik and Homer showed interest in participating, she said. The trouble was transportation — making a regular trip from either of those locations takes some doing. Even getting around the Central Kenai Peninsula can be difficult for seniors. Many of those who participated from the four central peninsula senior centers carpooled, she said.
This is Cain’s first year organizing the events. She took over for Jan Fena and Ken Losser, who had been organizing the games for years, with some help. In the future, transportation is something the organizers will try to address, she said.
“We may try to get a charter bus service just for this event,” Cain said.
All the events are open to all peninsula residents 55 or older, whether they signed up at one of the senior centers or not. Cain encouraged anyone who heard about the events and wanted to participate to come any time.
“If someone from Seward hears about it, come on over for a few days,” she said.
The Senior Olympic Games will run through Saturday, with events taking place at the Soldotna Senior Center, the Peninsula Center Mall, the Nikiski Pool and the North Peninsula Recreation Center. An awards ceremony and potluck will be held at the Soldotna Senior Center on Saturday.