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43rd annual May Festival honors county seniors Saturday

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MASSENA - Food, refreshments, music and prizes will be on the agenda for the 43rd annual May Festival beginning at 9 a.m. today at the Massena Senior Community Center.

The event, which is held in recognition of Older Americans Month, is hosted by the St. Lawrence County Council of Senior Citizens and open to all senior citizens in the county.

“We will be having stuff all day - raffles, cakewalks, informational tables and various activities,” Massena Senior Center Executive Director Sheila Benn said. “There will be lunch provided by the Parishville Hilltoppers. The music is provided by the Starlights. They play all kinds of music and do music from the 50s and 60s so the seniors will enjoy that. There will also be free door prizes for the raffle.”

Following the conclusion of the May Festival at 4 p.m., there will be awards presented and a Thanksgiving style dinner served at 4:30 p.m.

The awards will be for Senior Citizen of the Year, Outstanding Contribution by a Senior Citizen and the Jacqueline Sears Award, which will be announced by St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging Director Nancy Robert.

The Council of Senior Citizens’ President Sylvia Despaw has been heavily involved in the preparation of the annual event.

“We are a council made up of 16 different senior citizens groups throughout the county,” she said. “It’s a give back to the seniors. It’s a recognition of the outstanding work that the seniors do each year that sometimes don’t get noticed. ... During the day there will be everything for the enjoyment of the seniors.

“In the past we’ve had many large amounts of people show up. The past few years it has been held in Massena because of the great facility there. All the groups bid amounts of money to host for the event each year.”

Other activities during the day include free bingo, a royalty parade of kings and queens and a comedy skit performed by the senior citizens.

The Thanksgiving dinner, which is provided by the Massena Senior Citizens, costs $12.

“We also have a parade of kings and queens. We wanted to spark it up and the kings and queens will do a little comedy skit that will be added into our other activities. Our seniors, they’re willing to go along with anything and are great fun,” Ms. Despaw said. “Each club provides a prize for the silent auction. Each club gives a monetary donation for the free bingo and that’s how we do that.”

Ms. Benn noted that the new community center has been in existence for seven years and has already hosted the May Festival on four occasions.

“The people who come in here from out of town recognize the beauty of the building and really enjoy their time here,” she said. “Massena is very fortunate to have this facility. I don’t believe any senior group has as much as the Massena senior citizens have. We have everything here – weddings, retirement parties – you name it, we’ve had it here.”

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