Despite the shining sun and temperatures close to 80, hundreds of Warren County seniors chose to spend Friday morning indoors.
The annual Senior Expo has become an event that is looked forward to by many local seniors.
"We meet our friends up here that we haven't seen in a long time," Dody Peterson of Pleasant Township said.
Times Observer photos by Brian Ferry
Wendy Brown, Warren General Hospital radiology technologist, administers a heel scan on Babe Stillson of Russell during Senior Expo. The scan can give a preliminary indication of bone density.
While there is plenty of opportunity to socialize, the event at Warren Mall was organized mainly as a source of information.
"It brings people out and gives them an idea what they would like to do with their elderly life," J.C. Peterson said. "There are a lot of good products."
The Petersons have attended every Senior Expo so far and plan to continue to attend.
"We try to address all the issues that might be important to elderly people," Deacon Joe Lucia said from behind the Warren-Forest Eldercare Council registration desk. Those issues and services included "travel, hearing, sight, pulse, oxygen levels, anything that might be pertinent to the elderly people."
"We like to keep people informed," council member Pat Pollard said. "There's a variety (of vendors) - Warren General Hospital, Hospice, government agencies, travel, insurance, Blair, scooter rides... We've had a lot of good comments from people who came for the first time."
Not all of the services were those traditionally associated with senior citizens.
The Warren City Police Department provided information about identity theft and aging and driving.
The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) at Chapman State Park provided information about staying active and outdoors. "We've got a lot of nice flat trails, hills if you want a challenge," Laura Whitten said.
The event has been held at the Warren Mall for years. It is a venue that allows plenty of space for the many vendors and has storefront rooms available for vendors with services that are best handled out of the hallway.
"It's excellent," Lucia said.
People interested in particular screenings can have them done out of the flow of foot traffic.
Services including blood-sugar testing, blood pressure testing, flu shots, bone density checks, and even test drives of mobility scooters were handled inside unused storefronts.
The venue has a huge number of parking spaces, although until almost noon, very few of those spaces were available. The concourse offers space for both vendors and visitors.
According to Pollard, there were almost 70 vendors. The providers are not always the same, but the numbers are fairly consistent.
The number of registered visitors is also consistent, Lucia said. The event usually brings in 700 to 800 visitors. The council counts the number of forms filled out for raffle drawings.
The official count this year was 681.
But that number falls far short of the actual attendance, according to vendors.
Many estimated the number of visitors at closer to 1,500.
"It was shoulder-to-shoulder in here," Warren County Veterans Affairs Director Ed Burris said. "We had a good turnout today - 1,500 to 2,000."
Many of those in attendance take advantage of lunch provided by the council.
Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. about 500 people ate courtesy of the council. "Lunch is always a big hit," Sue Himes said. "It's a community service the Eldercare Council provides."
"It's good for seniors," Diane Priddy of Scandia said. "Very informative, bring them up to date on what's available."
"It's good for the community," Peterson said. "Elderly people need all the help they can get."
"It should be continued each year," Priddy said.
The Eldercare Council relies on community business sponsors to keep the event going, Pollard said.