Schenectady County

PRIME TIME: Food, chatter, trivia draw seniors to ‘Whimsical Wednesday’ gathering

It’s been decades since anyone in the Whimsical Wednesday group attended grade school, but when this

It’s been decades since anyone in the Whimsical Wednesday group attended grade school, but when this bunch of lively senior citizens gets together, they laugh and chatter like a bunch of school kids.

The group gathers monthly at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church for a meal, entertainment, and fun — all free of charge.

“We do picnics and barbecues and Oktoberfests, and at Christmastime we have a big party and everyone receives a gift,” said Lorraine Janack of Ballston Spa, the group’s organizer. In the summer there are field trips to places like Ulysses S. Grant Cottage and Saratoga Battlefield. In cooler months, the group brings in interesting speakers.

“We’ve had a Rockette here,” noted Janack. “First we started out telling people about nutrition and arthritis, but they don’t want that. They hear enough about that. They want to come and enjoy something, so we stress joy.”

Now in its 10th year, the monthly gathering draws a diverse group of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church members.

“One man is 90. One lady is battling leukemia. Some people just lost their spouse, so we have a whole eclectic group and they’re just wonderful and they just love to come and enjoy each other and that’s what it’s all about,” said Janack.

Hans Keller of Charlton comes to Whimsical Wednesday for the social aspect of the program. “I lost my wife, so I’m alone essentially, so it’s good camaraderie,” he said.

Beverly Niebuhr of Glenville has been a part of the group for four or five years. “I like being with people. It’s nice for us to see old friends that we don’t get a chance to see all the time. And the food is delicious. We’ve never had to send a meal back,” she joked at October’s Whimsical Wednesday gathering.

October’s meeting had an Oktoberfest theme. Attendees enjoyed a meal of German potato salad, red cabbage, bratwurst, apple cake and hot cider, prepared by six volunteers. The cooks are all members of the church’s Health Cabinet committee, which helps to promote healthy lifestyles. “We try to do nutritious stuff [for lunch] and stuff that tastes really good too,” noted Janack.

Nancy Mesh of Charlton was in the kitchen spraying whipped cream onto slices of the apple cake she made for October’s luncheon. The Whimsical Wednesday group provides a great support system for her, she shared. “It’s a neat group. It’s way too much fun,” she said with a laugh.

After lunch, attendees puzzled over a sheet of trivia questions. “The quiz is too hard today,” announced Niebuhr. “Some days it’s easier. But then we get talking, because we haven’t seen each other, and we forget to do the quiz.”

“The answer to question No. 1 is James Madison,” called out Janack. Gray heads bowed over the trivia sheets and heated discussion erupted about the answer.

Whimsical Wednesday attendees are very serious about the monthly trivia contest despite the fact that no prizes are awarded, Janack said. “It’s very competitive. It’s kind of fun to see them argue with each other and see who’s got what right,” she said.

The group is also very serious about the food, said Nancy Gibelius of Ballston Lake, who helps prepare the monthly luncheons. “They really do enjoy the lunch and the program,” she said. “They have a good time. They all pitch in and do what has to be done.”

No trace of apple cake was left on the orange paper plate that sat in front of Ken Zeman of Burnt Hills. He’s a fan of the food served at the Whimsical Wednesday gatherings, he said. “This is the first one I’ve been to in a long, long time. The only reason I’m here is because it’s Oktoberfest and I’m not doing anything at Habitat [for Humanity] today,” he said with a grin.

His wife, Nancy Zeman, agreed that the food is a draw. “It’s a nice dinner that I don’t have to cook,” she said.

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