Rio Grande Valley Parks Kick Off ‘Olympics’
A crowd of competitive Winter Texans gathered Monday (Jan. 12) at the leader boards posted on the side of a shed in McAllen, Texas, anxious to learn the results of the latest round of their shuffleboard tournament.
The competitors mobbed McAllen’s parks and recreation staff to ask about their scores as sounds of pucks clinking against one another filled the 20 shuffleboard courts at Casa del Sol RV Park in Donna, according to the McAllen Monitor.
“To some people, it’s a big deal,” said McAllen Parks and Recreation Director Larry Pressler. “It’s their chance – and maybe their last chance – to participate in something competitive in their life.”
Monday’s event was the kickoff to the Golden Age Olympics, a 7-week contest in which people age 50 and older compete in more than two dozen events.
An estimated 1,500 people will participate in the games, now in their 28th year.
And at least 120 – mostly Winter Texans – arrived in Donna for the shuffleboard tournament.
“To many of them, it’s just one more thing to do to keep them in the Valley or McAllen during the winter time,” Pressler said.
The contests include traditional sports like volleyball and basketball, as well as baking and crossword puzzles.
But on Monday, when residents hit the courts as early as 8 a.m., shuffleboard was on center stage.
Winter Texan Ethel Mae Vogstberger, of Ohio, said she makes it a point to compete in the event every year.
“I can’t even begin to count how many years it’s been,” she said.
The event draws Winter Texans from throughout the region, though the Golden Age Olympics is open to anyone older than 50.
Athletes played under a bright sun, soaking in temperatures nearing 70 degrees.
For Ken Pherigo – a native of Illinois, which was 45 degrees cooler than the Valley on Monday – he couldn’t have been happier.
“You can’t be doing this up there,” he joked.