Back in the swing of things

Everett se­nior cen­ter re­opens af­ter a two-month re­mod­el­ing project

The Daily Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Win­ters Her­ald Writer

EVERETT — Peo­ple who walked in the Carl Gip­son Se­nior Cen­ter on Mon­day were greeted with Hawai­ian-style dec­o­ra­tions and a loud “aloha” from the staff.

The fes­tive oc­ca­sion was be­cause the se­nior cen­ter re­opened on time af­ter a twom­onth clo­sure.

Hawai­ian shirts were en­cour­aged, lunch was a pineap­ple and ginger-glazed chicken dish, and ev­ery guest re­ceived a lei.

“We’ve gone through 100 leis so far to­day,” said De­bra LoughreyJohn­son, the se­nior cen­ter’s di­rec­tor. It was only 10:30 a.m.

The se­nior cen­ter closed July 5 so the re­strooms could be re­mod­eled, a $270,000 project. Many ac­tiv­i­ties were dis­placed dur­ing the hia­tus, and oth­ers were sim­ply can­celed.

The theme for the re­open­ing party was Hawai­ian be­cause… well, be­cause di­rec­tor LoughreyJohn­son loves Hawaii, and once even had a Hawai­ian-themed party for her birth­day.

Mon­day hap­pened to be her birth­day. “I’m just pre­tend­ing all these peo­ple are here for my party,” she said.

Near the lobby, for­mer Everett Coun­cil­man Carl Gip­son, for whom the build­ing is named, greeted ar­rivals with hugs be­fore he went and took his seat in the mul­ti­pur­pose room for lunch and the per­for­mance.

On the stage, five ladies in hula skirts, the old­est in her mid90s, were set­ting up.

Con­nie Young, the lead hula dancer, in­tro­duced the first song.

“We’re go­ing to start out with ‘Is­land of Love.’ Now, this is Elvis, so I don’t want to see any swoon­ing,” she said.

Oth­ers were there for the ac­tiv­i­ties they’d missed over the sum­mer.

In the ta­ble ten­nis room, Howard Gross­man, the cen­ter’s res­i­dent ping pong coach, pro­vided ad­vice to Yan Wong, who was in an in­tense fast-mov­ing game against David Kim.

“You’re do­ing that swing too far. Stop it half­way,” Gross­man

said af­ter Wong put a ball over the far end of the ta­ble. He demon­strated with his hand to show how to swing.

Wong, a na­tive of Guangzhou, China, said she’d been play­ing ta­ble ten­nis since she was five, and played on school teams and for a city club there. She’d only been com­ing to the se­nior cen­ter for a year and this was the first time she’d played Kim, who hailed from South Korea.

He proved to be a match for her.

“When he cuts it he puts spin, so you need to lift it!” Gross­man coached her.

“Yeah yeah,” she said be­tween serves.

The ac­tiv­ity was more low-key and con­cen­trated in the bil­liards room, where Mike Lan­phere and Gary Boller were breez­ing through a game of eight-ball.

“When I first found the place I was de­lighted to find a clean-and-sober place to come play pool,” Lan­phere said, while Boller sunk his first six solids in a row be­fore miss­ing a shot.

“When it closed I re­al­ized how much I missed the place,” he said.

Then Lan­phere went on to pocket six stripes be­fore scratch­ing.

“Oh! He choked!” Boller called out. Less than a minute later, Boller had sunk his last ball and neatly put the eight into a cor­ner pocket.

Then he racked up the balls and they started again.

ANDY BRONSON / THE HER­ALD

Carl­ton Gip­son (right) looks on as Carl Gip­son hugs De­bra Loughrey-John­son af­ter en­ter­ing the Carl Gip­son Se­nior Cen­ter in Everett on Mon­day. Below, hula dancers added to the Hawai­ian-themed party of the cen­ter’s re­open­ing af­ter com­ple­tion of a re­mod­el­ing project.

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