As the COVID pandemic continues to wane, older adults in Shakopee are returning to the Shakopee Community Center to participate in games, trips and activities.

Mary Feltmann, senior services specialist at the center, manages the classes and activities for older adults. She said it’s exciting to provide a variety of options for residents this spring and summer.

“It’s been a challenge with COVID, but things are coming back. We’re going to be starting some new programs here,” she said. “Our goal is just to make sure everybody’s having a good time.”

BRAIN GAMES

The community center has resumed weekly games. Mahjong is a popular one among regulars at the center.

Feltmann said residents come to the Ṡakpe ti Lounge every Wednesday from 1-3 p.m. to play mahjong. She said people started coming back to play earlier this year when activities resumed at the center.

Pat Boeckman is a Shakopee resident who has returned to play in recent months. Boeckman said she originally became interested in mahjong through word of mouth and after taking a class on it at the community center a few years ago.

“I thought it might be something for me to challenge my brain a little bit more and be a fun activity to do since I’m retired,” she said.

When the community center resumed its in-person activities, word of mouth was used again among regulars to get everyone back to the lounge and playing mahjong, Boeckman said.

Feltmann said she’s also noticed more participation. When people first started to return, only one or two tables would fill up for games. More recently, as many as four tables in the lounge have filled up for Wednesday games of mahjong. Four players typically play a game at a time.

“It’s been nice because now the weather’s getting better and the COVID numbers have gone down, so we’re seeing an increase. We just hope that this continues to grow and people feel comfortable coming here because it’s a real clean, safe environment,” Feltmann said.

Residents also have returned to play card games. The community center holds a “Cards and Conversations” event every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. until noon.

People typically come and play games like “500,” sheepshead and cribbage with friends. Feltmann said she’s seen as many as seven tables filled at a time for cards.

Shakopee resident Mary Jo Lebens said the socialization of these activities stands out to her. Both she and Boeckman play mahjong and cards at the center every week.

“It’s not all about the game we’re playing,” Lebens said. “To me, it’s the socializing — it’s the most important thing. It’s so good for all people and helps you feel good about yourself.”

Feltmann agreed, saying the social element is a big part of the programs she facilitates. This has been incredibly important in recent months with activities reopening at the center.

“I think it’s been really good for them to come and have a sense of belonging, especially for a lot of them that are living alone. They come and meet new people, and you hear a lot of giggling and just enjoying each other’s company,” Feltmann said.

VARIOUS ACTIVITIES

Beyond providing games, Feltmann tries to set up classes, events and trips that cater to varying interests.

Physical activities like pickleball, water aerobics classes and walking on the track are offered at the center for active older adults.

This year, the community center will be hosting monthly presentations by the Scott County Historical Society. Topics include the county’s history of sports, music, the county fair and the Minnesota River Valley.

The Shakopee Heritage Society is also providing a History of Shakopee series throughout this spring and summer. Local historian David Schleper will present topics like Shakopee’s history with teachers, bar culture, transportation and prominent names in “early Shakopee.”

Feltmann said she plans to make some of the popular outdoor events, such as a barbeque held at Lions Park and an ice cream social. “Lunch and Learn,” a weekly event where people meet with the Shakopee Police Department, will take place outdoors this year, as well.

Activities at the Shakopee Community Center also branch outside the building. Feltmann has set up a visit this summer to the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre for a performance of “Footloose,” as well as two trips for shows at the Masonic Heritage Center’s Ives Auditorium in Bloomington.

Boeckman has participated in some trips and said they always make for a fun day. She added that the activities at the community center have helped her and others she knows find ways to be social and get out to see others.

“It’s just a great place to meet people, have fun and enjoy your life that you have left after retirement,” she said.

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