The inaugural Coast Guard Festival Senior Day was held Wednesday, with a pickleball tournament held at Spring Lake High School’s tennis courts, and an ensuing celebration at Mulligan’s Hollow in Grand Haven, which included free lunch, live entertainment, bingo and line dancing.
“We tried to incorporate something that’s dedicated for older events as part of the Coast Guard Festival because obviously, it’s a huge community event,” said Brigit Lewis, the executive director at NOCCOA. “They have children’s day and they have a lot of family activities and we felt it was time to incorporate something for older adults.
“This being the inaugural year, we think we’re going to see this continue to grow and with different events being offered every year.”
A strong number of 80 participants tested their skills in the pickleball tournament, a racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis into a senior-friendly sport. A swimming competition was also originally on the schedule at the Spring Lake Aquatic Center, but a lack of participation shelved the event.
Pickleball, on the other hand, has gained popularity in the region recently, as the Lakeshore Pickleball Club was formed in May, Lewis said, and gained its 100th member earlier this month.
“(The club) is open to all ages,” she said.
Members from the Lakeshore club, as well as players from Holland and Muskegon, competed in the Senior Day tournament. Grand Haven’s Barbara Walters, 61, recently joined the club and also participated in the Spring Lake tournament.
“It’s a fun sport,” she said. “I love it because you get to meet new people and it’s great exercise.
“It’s competitive, but in a friendly manner.”
The oldest competitor at the event, Spring Lake resident Duane Quigg, 86, said he’s been playing the sport for several years.
“I used to play it (at a neighbor’s home) on Fruitport Road, and then I’d play down in Florida quite a few years,” he said. “I know it’s really grown around here. It’s great because it keeps us active. Instead of sitting in the house, it gets the legs moving.”
Quigg teamed up with Muskegon’s Larry DeVoogd, 83, and also planned on playing mixed doubles with a female partner at the tournament.
“Larry and I have to play in the younger (age) group, because honestly, all the competition is dying off,” Quigg said.
“It’s good for older people because you can make it as competitive as you want,” he added. “You don’t take that pounding on the joints like you would in some other sports.”