One side of the room was decorated with University of Alabama’s crimson and white, while the other side sported Auburn University’s signature orange for the Recreation Department’s annual Senior Tailgate for Cleburne County senior citizens.
Art Anglin, 85, sat at a table decorated in Alabama colors enjoying the company and the music.
Anglin said he’s always been an Alabama fan, but with his grandson’s attendance at Auburn University, now he can’t lose.
Anglin said although he goes to Ranburne Senior Citizen Center five days each week, this was his first time at the tailgate and he was having a great time.
“I met one of my old friends today,” Anglin said. “I didn’t recognize him. He come to me. I had to ask his name.”
He hadn’t seen him for about 30 years, Anglin said.
The party, the music, meeting old friends, “it makes me feel young again,” Anglin said.
Tammy Perry, director of Parks and Recreation for Heflin, said the city, with the help of sponsors, has hosted the party for Cleburne County residents for about six years. She found this year’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Saks, through a Facebook plea for help, she said.
The turnout this year, about 50 senior citizens along with some family members and lots of volunteers, was low, Perry said. For instance, Cleburne County Nursing Home residents didn’t come. She believes the cold weather kept people away.
“We have had up to 200,” Perry said.
The department started the party to bring seniors from all over the county together, she said. It seems to have worked — residents from Chulafinnee, Ranburne, Heflin, Fruithurst and Hollis Crossroads populated the gym.
Mary Brown of Chulafinnee said she comes every year to visit with people from other cities in Cleburne County.
“I just enjoy being around the people from Fruithurst and Ranburne,” Brown said.
But the party also draws family members of the seniors.
Rhonda Lines came to the party with her mother, Shirley Smith, 72, and her grandchildren, ages 1 and 4. Lines had the day off from her job as a cafeteria worker for Cleburne County Schools and wanted to spend it with her mom, she said.
Smith, decked out with her Alabama elephant jewelry, said she volunteers at the senior center in Heflin.
“I always come,” Smith said. “All the seniors know me.”
Jo Kilgore, 67, has hosted her grandchildren from Wetumpka this week and thought they might like to come to the party with her.
Jalyn Carlton, 12, said she was enjoying the party and her visit to her grandmother’s hometown.
“We went to see the lights in Heflin,” Jalyn said. “They were cool.”
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.