MANSFIELD -- On a typical Tuesday afternoon, the Renaissance Theatre is rather quiet. But on May 14, more than 400 vivacious seniors gathered at the Mansfield theater for the Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging's annual Senior Spring Spectacular.
For many seniors, like 91-year-old Freda Young, who volunteers every year the Senior Spring Spectacular, the event is a "can't miss" tradition.
"I like to work with people, and I meet so many wonderful people," she said.
She and many other seniors showed up as early as 11 a.m., although the event didn't formally start until noon. Most spent the hour talking among each other, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.
Jack Cowell most enjoys the friendships he makes at the event. The 94-year-old World War II veteran could be found Tuesday collecting tickets near the entrance and offering a friendly welcome and wide smile for those funneling into the theater.
"This event, it's educational, it has history and you can meet friends. And friends are first," he said.
It's these social interactions that allow him continually be a "go-getter," despite his age.
The Senior Spring Spectacular, held in recognition of Older American Month, featured live entertainment by vocal impressionist Randy Velez, a round of "educational jeopardy" and opportunities for seniors to connect with resources.
"What we want to do today is give everyone a chance to have some entertainment, talk to some vendors, to have a good time and give them a chance to talk to some people they might only see here," said Teresa Cook, Area Agency on Aging's vice president of marketing and development. "It's such a good way to start spring.
"We bring entertainment that we think is going to resonate with the audience ... And in the middle of it this year we're playing Jeopardy because when I have 400 people here and they may not know what we offer, Jeopardy is a fun way to tell them about our wellness programs, all the different things we do."
She hopes the seniors enjoy the experience and sees success "if they leave here smiling."
"We try to bring entertainment that's going to resonate with the audience, and just let them have fun," Cook said. "Some of the people are in nursing facilities, and this is an opportunity to be out in the public with other people and just have fun and to celebrate being with peers.
"So all I want is for them to go out smiling, saying I can't wait until next year, and hopefully, they'll connect with our resources, too."