TUCSON, Arizona (November 14, 2016)- The mayor of Tucson proclaimed this day “National Senior Games Day” to help welcome visitors from the National Senior Games Association to the “Old Pueblo City.”
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild issued the proclamation to commemorate the visit by an NSGA team to capture interviews with key local organizers of the 1997 National Senior Games (then called the National Senior Sports Classic) as part of a planned video mini-documentary. 2017 will mark the 30th Anniversary of the biennial National Senior Games, the largest multi-sport championship event in the world for people 50 and over.
The documentary will recount the formation, development and growth of the “Senior Games Movement” since the first national games were held in St. Louis in 1987. The event has moved to a different U.S. city every two years, and the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana will be held next June 2-15 in Birmingham, Alabama.
“Tucson hosted us at the close of our first decade, and it represented the first of our events to reach participation by more than 10,000 senior athletes,” NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker explained. “We’ve heard many positive comments from athletes about how well things went in Tucson, so it made a logical choice for us to meet with some of the organizers and ‘dig deeper’ as part of recounting our history.”
Prior to the afternoon mayoral presentation, several key organizers of the 1997 Games, led by the local host organization board chair James Ronstadt, gathered at the Randolph Golf Course Clubhouse to share memories for the video camera, and to then have a “reunion” lunch to celebrate their accomplishments.
Besides Ronstadt, who was director of Tucson Parks and Recreation in 1997, attendees included: Peggy Weber, Margot Hurst and Rennie Ochoa, also with the parks and recreation department; Susan Mason with the University of Arizona; Paul Marsh, former county supervisor, and Irene Stillwell, longtime executive director of the Arizona Senior Olympics. Stillwell also played a role in both the formation of the first national games and with bringing the 1997 event to Tucson. Visit Tucson CEO Brent DeRaad also joined the gathering.
“It was great to have this gathering,” Ronstadt commented. “We all had a great time putting everything together back then. It was a unified community effort involving the city, county, the University of Arizona, and all of the corporate sponsors and volunteers that helped make it a success.”
Del Moon, NSGA Communications and Media