Local seniors celebrate Fall Jubilee to benefit spring excursion

A group of Eagle County seniors gathered at the grand staircase at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. The local seniors are planning a group excursion to New York City this spring and their Fall Jubilee fund-raiser planned this Friday will help fund the trip.
Special to the Enterprise |

Eagle County’s senior citizens are an adventurous group and this spring, 30 of them are planning a big trip to the Big Apple.

From March 13-17, the group from the Golden Eagle Senior Center have planned an action packed excursion to New York City.

“The 9/11 museum has just opened and we want to see it,” said trip organizer Johnnette Phillips.

The seniors have scheduled a six hour tour at the 9/11 memorial on their very first day in New York. The rest of their itinerary includes a water taxi tour of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, a trip to the top of the Empire State Building and a ticket to either a Broadway show or a Rockettes performance at Radio City Music Hall. The trip will also include a 48-hour pass for a hop on/hop off bus. As a final send off, the seniors will be in the city for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade down Broadway.

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Seasoned travelers

Next spring’s trip marks the eighth excursion for the local seniors. Phillips has been orchestrating the journeys every other year since she retired after several terms as Eagle County Clerk and Recorder and two terms as Eagle County Commissioner. The first trip took local seniors to Washington D.C. and since that time they have traveled to Nashville, Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston and Branson. The group also traveled together on a Mexican cruise.

The seniors who participate pay one third of the cost of these trips. The seniors raise the remaining money by working the Eagle Valley Community Rummage Sale and selling ducks for Eagle County Rotary, soliciting area organizations and businesses and finally by hosting their Fall Jubilee fund-raiser. That event is planned this Friday in Eagle.

Looking ahead

Oralia Archibeque is one of the seniors signed up to visit New York this spring. “My husband and I did some traveling, but we never got to New York,” she said. “It will be so exciting to go there.”

Jackie Benson said the visit to the 9/11 memorial will be the trip highlight, but she’s also excited to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. A veteran of several of the seniors trips, Benson said that it is often the unscripted moments that make the excursions memorable. Her husband Hugo quickly supplied a story to illustrate the point.

Hugo recalled that during the trip to Washington D.C., he was assisting a fellow senior by pushing her wheelchair. The two were in a tunnel where suddenly the floor began to slope and before Hugo realized it, the wheelchair started picking up speed. He was alarmed, his charge was elated.

“We got to going kind of fast and she turn around and yelled “Faster, faster!” said Hugo.

Marnie Minet traveled to Branson, Mo. with the local seniors. “Every show we went to, at the start of the show they acknowledged the people serving in the armed services,” she said. “That made an impression.”

Phillips fondly remembers all of the outings, especially the time she celebrated her birthday at the Cheers bar in Boston. As for the spring journey to New York, the small town seniors aren’t worried about taking off for the big city. Phillips said the schedule includes both free time and group time with one night tour — a bus trip to Brooklyn. “We are not going to get off that bus after dark,” she emphatically stated.

Judging by their laughter when recalling former trips and comments regarding what they want to see in New York, the group is all set for the adventure.

“As long as Johnnette plans it, the trip will be fun,” said Hugo.

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