It's a winter pool party without the pool but plenty of winter.
On Jan. 19 at the Mingo Knights of Columbus Hall, about 80 "seniors" got together that Sunday afternoon for lunch, prizes, a 50-50 drawing and a chance to chat at what was the fourth-annual such gathering in celebration of the "Mingo Senior Swim."
The "Mingo Senior Swim" is a tradition of about 25 years that originated with John Tucci, according to winter pool party co-organizers Benita Leone and Sherry Chappano.
Mingo Senior Swim pioneers John Tucci and Joe LaPenna
The pool at Mingo's Aracoma park - a beautiful facility that Better Half and I have enjoyed a dip or two or three in through the years - traditionally opens at noon to the public during the summer months, but one day more than two decades ago, Tucci was walking by the pool during the morning and apparently asked then-Mingo Mayor John Corrigan if it would be OK to take a swim, even though the pool wasn't open yet.
That simple request with a simple response in the affirmative evolved into the "Mingo Senior Swim," a time where the pool is open from 10 a.m. to noon, seven days a week, exclusively to "seniors" age 50 and older.
Tucci, who would make the request that the pool be heated, started swimming and ultimately so did Joe LaPenna, the two pioneers of this time of swimming and socializing that involves not just Mingo residents but people from around the area, too, including Weirton and Follansbee, Steubenville and Wintersville.
The ladies bring goodies to the swim sessions, and the guys handle the coffee. Ed Treglia takes care of the swimming side of things. Sherry Chappano spins oldies as the self-designated disc jockey.
Every day there's a 50-50 drawing with proceeds going to help with pool needs. In recent years, for example, the group provided funds for an electric pool cleaner, according to Chappano.
On any given day, as many as 50 seniors might take advantage of the swim time.
"They all love it," Chappano said.
The summer also brings the swimmers together for two picnics and an ice cream day.
Four years ago, it was suggested that a winter activity be planned to bring everyone together, and such was the birth of the winter pool party, traditionally held the third week of January.
That being history now, the group looks forward (as do we all) to warmer weather, a time to shed coats, don bathing suits and dive into some summer fun.