The saying goes, “Age ain’t nothing but a number.”
In the case of our senior-aged feters, the proof is certainly in the pudding.
Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center brought carnival to their residents Aug. 27 with a band presentation, performances and more organized by Assistant Director Angela Cooper.
Carnival Labor Day Comes to McKinney is the first of its kind to come to the facility but it isn’t the first cultural event hosted there. Center chief Michael Tartaglia describes Cultural Day — an inclusive display showcasing the various cultures of the residents — as another opportunity for them to wear their pride.
“We like to do events that are reflective of the community and culturally sensitive, festive and I think this fits the bill,” Tartaglia said. “We do have an annual Cultural Day that isn’t just Caribbean but we have people that set up tables – Greek American, Italian American — but because of the nature of the residents and the employees it is predominantly Caribbean.
The decision to mount their first carnival event was decided in conjunction with the active resident council and the recreation department — majority of whom are of Caribbean descent.
“We interface with them on the activities they would like, they want to participate in the planning and things like that. Just like with barbecues, we involve them in the menu, the choices, the dates and the forum. It’s a very inclusive process and naturally its reflective of resident’s wishes, cultural background, things that they like and what they want to participate in,” Tartaglia explained.
Starting off the carnival vibes was the Center’s own masqueraders, McKinney Spirit, with costumes sponsored by Karib Vibrations Mas. The small group of seniors stormed the courtyard clad in colorful headpieces proudly wuking up and getting on bad to the music provided by their DJ.
For Jamaican native Christopher Cooper, dressing up was nothing he really got into as a child back home. “It’s more of a Trinidadian thing, you know,” Cooper said. “It was fun. I am having fun.”
Amongst the feters was state Sen. Jessie Hamilton. Offering a few comments to the vibrant group, Hamilton thanked and congratulated the seniors for paving the way for first-generation Caribbean American’s like himself.
“My grandmother came from Barbados and always stressed two things: education and get a good union job,” Hamilton told the crowd. “A lot of times our young folks get Yankee ways. They don’t have that fire in their belly to work hard but you have done it,” .
Following the McKinney Spirit’s opening, other masqueraders and performers took center stage including Karibvibrationz Mas, D Midas International, Pieces of A Dream, New Horizon, and more.
Food and refreshments were also provided as part of the event.