The New Jersey Senior Olympics are coming back to Woodbridge for the fifth consecutive year.
The Senior Olympics will be held at a variety of venues throughout the township, Mayor John McCormac announced at the Woodbridge Community Center Tuesday afternoon. The games will take place September 9th, 10th, and 11th, with the opening ceremonies taking place on the 10th at the Community Center.
"We're very, very proud to host [the NJ Senior Olympics]," said McCormac.
Michael Garamella is the executive director of the New Jersey Senior Olympics. "The support I get here, it's amazing," he said of the Senior Olympics' consistent return to Woodbridge. "The community support I get here is unbelievable. I walk around town and (the seniors) make me feel like a rock star."
"It's a wonderful event to participate in," said Al Kazlow of Linden, a regular participant in the NJ Senior Olympics who came in 6th overall in the horseshoes competition at the National Senior Olympics in California last year. "It's a wonderful experience. You get to meet people." Ten thousand athletes participated in the Summer Games in San Francisco last year, including Kazlow and approximately 300 other New Jersey seniors.
Woodbridge will play host to 14 of the Olympics' 16 events. Billiards, basketball (three-on-three, accuracy, and foul shooting), swimming, and darts will be held at the Community Center. Woodbridge High School will be the site for table tennis and fencing events. Warren Park hosts team softball, bocce, and horseshoes. The Club at Woodbridge will host events in racquetball and tennis, with Woodbridge Bowling Center hosting the bowling competitions, and Woodbridge Center Ball once again hosting the cycling competition. Archery and golf competitions will take place in Bloomfield and Plainsboro, respectively.
Prior to 2007, the Senior Olympics had bounced around the state and was even in danger of being canceled, said Garamella. "Since the state cut funding, we'd been struggling to get people behind us to run it," he noted.
"We got together and went to the mayor (five years ago)," said Pat Trombetta, who, along with Frank St. Marie and Chester Kinal, are the chairpersons of the Senior Olympics in Woodbridge. "He went along with it and said, 'Guys, run with it.'"
One of the perks for Woodbridge seniors looking to compete is a heavily discounted rate for entry. While most participants must pay $25 to register for up to three events, Woodbridge residents enjoy a hometown rate of only $5. For the third year in a row, Woodbridge seniors can participate for that discounted rate thanks to brisk sponsorship support.
"It's been fantastic," said St. Marie of the Olympics stint in Woodbridge. "It gets better every year."