It's a summer for seniors as games, fitness and other programs fill local community calendars.

And with many older residents now back at it after many months of closures and cancellations due to COVID-19, it's also a time to see friends again safely.

Gathering spots include the Marion Gerrish Community Center in Derry, the Londonderry Senior Center and many programs and activities held through Derry's Parks and Recreation Department.

For the games people like to play, the Marion Gerrish center has a full schedule for older adults every day, including bridge, Mahjongg, Whist, cribbage and forty-fives, with activities held at the center on West Broadway.

On nice days, there are also outdoor games to enjoy like cornhole and bocce, and giant versions of some favorites like Jenga, Connect Four, chess and checkers.

Derry's Parks and Recreation Department also offers indoor walking and fitness programs at Veterans Hall on West Broadway.

Dianne Schultz enjoyed a game of cribbage at the community center one recent morning, joined safely by friends again.

Playing since she was a young girl, Schultz said now that the center is open again, she is happy to be back.

That was a similar sentiment on a recent morning at the Londonderry Senior Center, where seniors were enjoying a Bone Builders class and just time to sit and chat again, with safety guidelines still in place.

"It's a wonderful place to socialize," said Ann Hernandez, who attends Bone Builders classes several times a week.

For Rita Sullivan, it was a tough year being away.

"We missed it," she said. "It was very tough on all of us."

Londonderry Senior Affairs Director Catherine Blash said now that the center is open again, keeping social distancing practices and other healthy guidelines in place is important.

Blash said the center no longer offers communal meals, but instead packs up individual meals that people can come inside and pick up to take home.

Eating utensils are also packaged individually, and all tables and chairs, along with tablecloths, are cleaned regularly and sprayed with disenfectant after each class or program.

"It's just to keep everybody safe," Blash said. "But we are trying to get to normal as much as possible."

Blash added not every regular member is back in person, but the numbers are still admirable. Right now, the center offers line dancing, Tai Chi, Bone Builders and other activities with about 400 active members on the center's roster.

"They love coming here," Blash continued, "and love the socialization."

She also said while the center was closed due to COVID-19, newsletters and other information continued to flow out to members to keep them engaged and informed.

Londonderry seniors will also be in the spotlight in August during the Old Home Day celebration with the Senior Night meal and concert set for Aug. 18.

For information on Derry's senior offerings, call the Marion Gerrish Community Center at 603-434-8866; Derry Parks and Recreation at 603-432-6136, or the Londonderry Senior Center at 603-432-8554.

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