With one eye closed, 94-year-old Hubert Scoville gripped the metal gun in his hand and aimed at the bright yellow, blue and red circles in front of him.
After a brief pause, he carefully pulled the trigger, releasing a red paint ball that splattered dead center on the target. Bull’s-eye No. 3.
“I am going to try awful hard to win,” the Kansas native said while attaching his blue first-place qualifying ribbon to the button on his flannel shirt.
But it wasn’t just the thrill of victory that brought the 1992 target shooting champ back to another Senior Games at the Orange County Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
No, this gold medalist was there for more than the chance to repeat his performance in 1993: “The good-looking girls,” he said with a laugh. “Am I right?” Scoville said, gesturing to his colleagues, Albert Logsdon, 84, and Abe Falbaun, 85, who shook their heads in agreement.
Whatever the reasons, hundreds of senior citizens from throughout Orange County gathered at the fairgrounds to participate in the annual Senior Celebration. The 55-and-over crowd spent the day competing in Olympic games senior citizen-style, running wheelchair races and enjoying entertainment by the likes of Dorothy Jo’s Happy Hoofers, among others.
“It is really invigorating for them,” said Earle Lewis of Katella Manor in Los Alamitos, who brought Scoville and his companions to the games. “We come every year.”
More than 400 senior citizens from 48 nursing, convalescent and other care and retirement homes were slated to participate in this year’s celebration, sponsored by the Orange County Fair and the Orange County Activity Directors Assn. The all-day event, dubbed “Gold Rush,” was free to all the competitors.
In true Olympics-style, the day started out with opening ceremonies and the national anthem. By 10 a.m., competition was well underway. Roger Coe of Lake Forest, competing in the active-76-and-over category, took a whack at the whiffle ball in a baseball event while over at the basketball toss, Helen Williams of Santa Ana tried her luck.
“Oh, I missed one,” she lamented, before slam dunking the next. Eventually she made six baskets out of 10 shots, enough to win a ribbon.
As Williams labored at the hoop, about 10 senior citizens in wheelchairs lined up at the target shoot, while others played volleyball and hurled bean bags for the shotput.
Inside one of the buildings, many took refuge from the heat while watching the Dorothy Jo Swanson Dancers. Grace Waterman and Marilyn Greenwald, clad in black leotards and green polka-dot tops, tap danced to “La Jazz Hot” followed by a group of tappers, complete with umbrellas, who danced to “Singing in the Rain.”
Displayed throughout the hall were many of the arts and crafts that are also part of the competition--such as Eugenia Ainsworth’s first-place baby blue afghan and Gladys Nelson’s crochet and lace baby blanket, sweater and hat, which also took first-place honors.
By this time, the team from Katella Manor, having finished qualifying heats, was taking a breather from the competition and enjoying a popcorn snack. Scoville had garnered three ribbons, including two first-place finishes in shotput and target shooting.
Logsdon had also squeaked out a first place in target shooting. The medal round would begin in a couple of hours. Surveying the competition, Scoville wasn’t so sure he would be going home with the gold this year.
“Looks like I am going to have some competition,” Scoville said with a smile.