Pasadena Senior Center, Likely to Play Increasingly Important Local Role, Celebrates 55 Years

Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek moves through the crowd, chatting with party goersPasadena Senior Center Board President Sandra Burton GreensteinPasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServiceBecky Ferguson with her six-year-old grandson MilesPasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServiceFanfen Chen and Wei Sun listened to piano music and enjoyed the party atmosphere.Friends posed together in the photo booth with fun costumes.Pasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServicePasadena Senior Center Celebrates 55 Years of ServiceSenator Carol Liu (center)  bestowed a congratulatory declaration on the Senior CenterSenior Center executive Director Akila Gibbs with Junior League of Pasadena President-Elect Robyn GrandyVirginia Dvorak and Elci Verboomel

Story by RACHEL YOUNG | Photography by RACHEL YOUNG and JAMES MACPHERSON

4:48 am | August 16, 2015


A joyous celebration Saturday that drew hundreds  marked the 55th anniversary of the Pasadena Senior Center, a center servicing the fastest growing segment of this country’s population and which now offers 71 class offerings per week.

Looking back at where the center grew from in 1960, Director Akila Gibbs thanked the Junior League of Pasadena for the financial contributions that originally made opening the center possible.

At that grand opening celebration in 1960 about 2,000 people attended on the 74-degree day Gibbs said. Saturday’s celebration, by contrast, sweltered through a 101-degree day but the heat didn’t seem to phase anyone.

The Center has morphed through the decades: square dancing became Zumba Gold, shuffleboard morphed into the Sy Graff Fitness Center, programs were expanded to appeal to baby boomers and hours were extended to accommodate working seniors.

Imagine back to the 1960s, Gibbs told the audience, when gas was $.25 per gallon, a house could be bought in Pasadena for $12,700, twist was the hottest dance on the planet and Alfred Hitchcok’s Psycho was scaring people out of the theatres.

“In 1960 I had just begun to date my bride and I attended a rally for Jack Kennedy on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, so 1960 was a big year,” Tornek said. “The excitement for me is looking forward at what you will continue to do.”

Senator Carol Liu presented a large commemoration plaque to the Senior Center commending them for being one of the “exceptional” senior centers in the state of California that she identified in her bus tour of senior centers last year.

Twenty-five percent of the population in California will be seniors by 2025, Liu said.

In 1999 the Pasadena Senior Center was accredited by the National Association of Senior Centers, making it the first independent, nationally accredited senior center in California and one of the first in the nation.

The Great American Swing Band and the Tap Chicks sang happy birthday to the senior center, livening up the room and bringing long time couples to the dance floor.

Kidspace and the Armory Center for the Arts provided fun activities for children—face painting, balloon art, and print making.

“This is a great event,” Becky Ferguson said. “I love being able to bring my grandson.”

The Center provided sample classes of line dancing, learning Spanish through acting, Pilates, and iPad basics.

In 1960 the City of Pasadena donated land at the south end of Memorial Park for the Pasadena Senior Center, an independent, nonprofit organization, after a bond issue was passed for construction.

Fifty-five years later, in a building that opened in 1997 at the same location with three times the square footage, the Pasadena Senior Center offers a full complement of recreational, educational, wellness and social services to people 50 and older in a friendly environment.

Services are also provided to frail, low-income and homebound seniors. The service area is Pasadena, surrounding communities and beyond, and more services are provided here for more than 15,000 people annually than at any other provider of senior services in the greater Pasadena area.

For more information visit www.pasadenaseniorcenter.org or call (626) 795-4331.