Better with age

Hundreds of seniors gather for annual event

Over 300 senior citizens came out for the free annual Secaucus Columbus Day Luncheon on Oct. 8 at Clarendon Elementary School. The luncheon is part of a series of events the town hosts for senior citizens throughout the year, which include yoga, aerobics, computer classes, and even a Spring Fling with a prom king and queen.
Seniors enjoyed Italian food by Natoli’s, dessert donated by the Meadowlands Hospital and Medical Center, music by Ian Gallagher on guitar, and prizes.
The Secaucus school district Service Activities Involvement and Leadership (S.A.I.L) team, a service learning club, served the seniors their food.

A time to meet new people and see friends

“I think it is a great thing to get the seniors out,” said Frank DeGilio, 77. He has been a resident for 50 years. He said it was a great way to make new friends.
“Getting out and seeing my friends,” said Gerard Marra, 82, as to what he enjoyed most about the senior luncheon. He shared that he had a late uncle named Cristafo Columbo Marra, named after – of course – explorer Christopher Columbus, who arrived in the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492.

“She is 78 and still so pretty.” – Papan Panjabi
“I always enjoy the parties,” said Madline Arcell, 77. She has been a resident the past five years. “The mayor has been very good to us.” Arcell sat at a table with six other friends, Carole Dorr, Rena Llibre, Gloria Warnke, Connie Pendley, and Elizabeth Gulino. Most have become residents in the last four to five years with the exception of Llibre, who has been a resident for 15 years. All were happy to spend the day among friends.
Dorr insisted that everyone was 65, when asked about her age.
Warnke found the event very nice.

Seniors have all the fun

“Everything went well. It was very well coordinated,” said Gaye Graziosi, 78. She has been a resident for 45 years. “Having the teens serve us was very nice. The food was excellent.”
“Everything ran smoothly,” said Lisa Snedeker, director of senior and community services. She is responsible for organizing all of the senior events and services throughout the year and has organized the luncheon the last four years.
“I get a lot of help without a doubt. I had unlimited support from the mayor and council. They rolled up their sleeves,” said Snedeker. She arrived at 6:30 a.m. to set up for the 12 p.m. luncheon. She also mentioned she had support from the service-learning club, S.A.I.L.

Disseminating valuable information

“It gets [seniors] out and gets them involved. It is the best way to get information to them,” said Snedeker. The town takes the opportunity to announce the timing of flu and pneumonia vaccinations or blood testing at events like the luncheon. Snedeker also asked seniors to fill out contact information to register for an information notification system that will allow residents to be kept up to date in case of emergencies.
Amy Hauxhurst, nurse manager at the Meadowlands Hospital, was at the event to provide seniors with information about the hospital’s home visit program. The hospital launched the preventive care program throughout Hudson County, which provides a free, full medical check-up in the home of senior citizens.


Donated raffle prizes included gift baskets, scented candles, tote bags, and even an overnight stay in a hotel.
Couple Papan and Heera Panjabi both won prizes in the raffle and were going home with new tote bags.
“[The luncheon] is an excellent way to meet friends,” said Papan Panjabi. Of his wife, he said, “she is 78 and still so pretty.”
The grand prize of a one night stay in the Crown Plaza Hotel went to Carol Pietz, 64, who felt a bit perplexed at what to do with the prize, as a widow.
“I have to think on this one,” said Pietz.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at

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