“It’s so great to be back.”

Lynn Smid, director of the St. Paul Regional FCSS, was obviously pleased with the huge turnout at the Santa’s Seniors Festival in St. Paul November 15—the first in four years.

Approximately 225 seniors attended the revived annual festival, which offered pertinent information as well as games, gifts, and entertainment. And of course there was a magnificent turkey dinner.

Smid said she asked area seniors during Seniors Week festivities in June if they wanted to see a return to in-person gatherings. The answer was an enthusiastic “yes.”

“I was very happy that seniors said they wanted something that was back in person. And the Seniors Festival hadn’t been hosted since pre-Covid,” Smid said.

“It’s been a few years now, so it was exciting to be back in person.”

There were plenty of smiles and a lot of laughter during the event, which was held at All Saints Ukrainian Cultural Centre. Smid and the FCSS team also used the opportunity to pass on important information about electricity billing, funding for aging in place, advanced care planning, and urban pole walking.

In the past, the festival would move to a different location in the town or the County of St. Paul from year to year. This year’s attendees were asked whether they would like to return to that, or adopt a permanent location in the Town of St. Paul. The All Saints venue worked well for the event this year.

Smid said she and the FCSS team would assess the information from participants and make a decision for the 2024 festival.

Between the FCSS and the All Saints board and volunteers, it was a team effort to put on such a successful event.

“It was awesome,” Smid said. “I have a great staff, and it was a beautiful setting with this facility being already set up for the Christmas season. We’re very fortunate that we could do it before going into December, just because everybody gets so busy. And the weather cooperated, there’s no snow.”

Registrations were sold out within a week of the opening date—further evidence that such events are valuable and important.

 “It shows the need for connection, right? And that’s what FCSS is all about,” Smid said. “Connecting people with each other and decreasing that isolation amongst older adults.” 

Plenty of food and lots of fun were the order of the day. JEFF GAYE