Red Hook Seniors party hearty

Superstorm Sandy may have disrupted their schedule, but the Red Hook Seniors didn’t let the weather dampen their spirits at their annual Halloween costume party.

Despite having to wait an extra two weeks to dress up and celebrate on Nov. 13, the ladies — and one gentleman — were obviously enjoying the cider, coffee, snacks, and donuts but especially each other’s laughter and company, as they do on Tuesday afternoons at 1pm at the Red Hook Firehouse.

Seniors President Janis Saggese, dressed in a purple plaid “farmer suit” costume, tried to get a consensus from the ladies at her table on how long the group has been in existence. After some discussion and a couple of funny reminiscences, it was agreed to be more than 35 years. The group currently has a membership of about 60, but they are always eager for new members over 55 years of age who live in the Red Hook area.

“At one time, there were over 100 of us. I’ve been here 18 years, and I love the socializing,” said Irene Schiff. “We have a lot of laughs.”

Jean Haight was dressed as Cleopatra in her white-and-gold Egyptian costume and exotic blue scarf. She has been a member for 15 years. “It’s a good group,” she said. “They are all friendly and helpful, and we have fun at Bingo. We do need more people, though.”

Everyone agreed that it would also be great if more men would join, since there are mostly women at this point.

The Red Hook Seniors really appreciate visits from outside speakers or entertainment. Representatives from the Dutchess County Office of the Aging have given informative presentations, and visits from groups such as the Scouts or local students help liven up their Tuesday afternoons.

Those gathered for the Halloween party suggested other possibilities for community involvement, ranging from Bard College visitors to musical or dramatic performances, arts or craft demonstrations, cooking lessons, yoga classes, and film showings.

When it was time for the Halloween costume parade, Jean the “Egyptian” won first prize; Marion Gerace won second prize for her geisha costume, complete with elaborate wig; and Janis Saggese won third prize for her snazzy farmer outfit. Local vendors donated the raffle prizes, with gift certificates from Hannaford Supermarket and Rusty’s Farm Fresh Eatery to a bottle of wine from the “Save Our Town” organization.

For the upcoming Christmas Party, to be held Dec. 11 at 1pm at Abela’s Restaurant on the Green (at the Red Hook Golf Club), there will be 16 raffle prizes, including a complete turkey basket with trimmings and a handmade “money wreath” worth $50. Geraldine Markel, who joined the group two years ago, hinted that there will also be a “very big surprise.”

The group’s annual $10 dues covers the cost of refreshments and games, such as Bingo. Those who wish to participate in the group’s regular outings or special events pay for these separately. This year so far, they have traveled to the Hunterdon Hills Playhouse in New Jersey, Villa Roma Resort in the Sullivan County Catskills region, and the Westchester Broadway Theater in Elmsford to see the Glen Miller Orchestra.

Members also dedicate time to put together packages of food and gifts for veterans at the Castle Point V.A. Hospital. And birthdays are never forgotten in this group either; a cake is shared each month without fail.

You can learn more about joining or adding to the fun of the Red Hook Seniors by calling Janis Saggese at 845-758-9288.

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