Older residents enjoy activities again at Shakopee Community Center | Shakopee

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

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

“It has been a challenge with COVID, but things are coming back. We are going to start new programs here,” she said. “Our goal is just to make sure everyone has a good time.”

BRAIN TRAINING GAMES

The community center has resumed weekly games. Mahjong is popular among center regulars.

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

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

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

When the community center resumed in-person operations, word of mouth was again used among regulars to bring everyone back to the lounge and play mahjong, Boeckman said.

Feltmann said she also noticed a higher turnout. When people started coming back, only one or two tables filled up for games. More recently, up to four tables in the lounge filled up for the Wednesday mahjong games. Four players usually play one game at a time.

“It’s been good because now the weather is improving and the COVID numbers are down so we’re seeing an increase. We just hope it continues to grow and people feel comfortable coming here because it’s a really clean and safe environment,” Feltmann said.

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

People usually come to play games like “500”, sheep and cribbage with friends. Feltmann said he saw as many as seven tables filled at once for cards.

Shakopee resident Mary Jo Lebens said the socializing of these activities stands out for her. She and Boeckman play mahjong and cards at the center every week.

“It’s not all about the game we play,” Lebens said. “For me, it’s socialization — that’s the most important thing. It’s so good for everyone and it helps to feel good about yourself.

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

“I think it’s really good for them to come and have a sense of belonging, especially for a lot of them who live alone. They come and meet new people, and you hear a lot of laughter and you just enjoy each other’s company,” Feltmann said.

DIVERSE ACTIVITIES

In addition to providing games, Feltmann tries to put together classes, events and trips that cater to a variety of interests.

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

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

The Shakopee Heritage Society is also offering a series on Shakopee’s history throughout this spring and summer. Local historian David Schleper will present topics such as the history of Shakopee with teachers, bar culture, transportation and important names from “early Shakopee”.

Feltmann said she plans to hold some of the popular outdoor events, such as a barbecue hosted at Lions Park and an ice cream party. “Lunch and Learn,” a weekly event where people meet the Shakopee Police Department, will also take place outdoors this year.

The activities of the Shakopee Community Center also branch out from the building. Feltmann arranged a visit this summer to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater for a performance of “Footloose,” as well as two trips for shows at the Ives Auditorium at the Masonic Heritage Center in Bloomington.

Boeckman has been on some trips and said they always make for a fun day. She said 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 the life you left after retirement,” she said.

Jill E. Washington