The Oklahoma Regatta Festival is set for Thursday through Sunday and this year a dragon boat team made up of retirement village residents will be part of the festivities.
The team is comprised of about 30 Spanish Cove Retirement Village residents between the ages of 72 and 87.
“They amaze me. I think that seniors, and this group specifically, are hopefully changing the stereotypes of aging,” said Debbie Miller, director of wellness and resident relations at Spanish Cove Retirement Village in Yukon. “I'm amazed at their tenacity and their endurance.”
The notion of putting together a senior dragon boat team sparked when Spanish Cove resident, local philanthropist and self-described “River Rat” Ann Lacy added a new dragon boat to the fleet she's bought for the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation.
Her fellow Spanish Cove residents thought for sure that she'd bought the boat just for them.
“They jumped into it with both feet,” Lacy said, laughing. Though Lacy had really bought the boat for the Foundation, she was happy to let her friends use it, if they formed a team.
Before long, Miller had assembled a team of Spanish Cove residents, including Lacy.
The team had T-shirts printed up with their team slogan emblazoned proudly on the back: “Paddle Strong, Live Long.” Wristbands with the slogan will be available for a donation at the event.
The senior paddlers wear their team name on their sleeves: Golden Dragons. They get together at 7 a.m. each Thursday to practice on the Oklahoma River.