The Senior Summer Olympics were the idea of recreation leader Beatrice Amezquita, who drew inspiration from the 2012 Olympic Games set to begin July 27.
She and staff members at Lolly Hansen Senior Center laid out a croquet course, horseshoe pit and pingpong table for residents 55 and older who wanted a taste of competition — or a relaxing game in the shade.
“I thought to kick off summer to have a barbecue and a few games,” Amezquita said.
The food and games drew a larger-than-normal Wednesday crowd to the center near City Hall, Amezquita said, as 15 or so Tracy residents took part in the contests that substituted certificates and sundaes for medals.
“Usually, Wednesdays are pretty slow, but we had more seniors than usual,” she said.
Amezquita added that, in keeping with the Olympic spirit, the London games would be shown at the senior center once they begin.
Husband and wife Alex and Rosa Castillejos were two of the seniors who braved the 105-degree heat, taking shots at metal stakes with thoughtfully aimed horseshoes.
“We do everything together,” said Rosa Castillejos, deftly tossing a shoe ahead of her husband.
The 62-year-olds are usual suspects at the senior center. She plays bingo, while he teaches a computer class and participates in painting sessions.
Rosa Castillejos said the activities there are a good way for retired folks to stave off boredom — especially the special outings like Wednesday’s Olympics and a day trip to Santa Cruz planned for August.
“I always like to participate in all the events that they have. … I like the camaraderie,” she said. “I’m so glad they have all these resources.”
Her husband, matching her toss for toss, agreed.
“The thing I’ve found is you can help a lot of people here,” Alex Castillejos said. “I’ve found my place here.”
Carefully navigating the nearby croquet course was 75-year-old Alita Shivlall. She said the classes and events at the center add to life in Tracy.
“I’ve been coming here since I came to California,” the recent transplant said. “It keeps me busy.”
The games were fueled by a barbecue lunch, featuring fruit and potato salad, hot dogs and sundaes.
Several participants took it easy immediately after the meal, resting in folding chairs to watch the activities unfold. But 74-year-old Charlie Ling was eager for a competitor to match him at the pingpong table.
Two times a week, Ling said, he and several others visit the senior center for pingpong competition. And it seemed the Olympic theme provided a perfect time for Ling’s skills to shine.
“It’s good for everyone,” Ling said. “It keeps us all quite fit.”