This week, the 2012 games will feature 640 seniors competing in more than 50 events to be held Wednesday through Saturday. Athletes ages 50 and up come not only from around the state but around the country.
Vicki Pilgrim, who has been involved with the event since it began and is now the director, said participants are coming from California, Texas and other states. While the games are Georgia’s state competition for seniors, they are open to people from other states.
Marsha Buzzell, director of the Warner Robins Convention & Visitors Bureau, said it’s difficult to estimate the economic impact of the games because some people come for one event and leave, while others may be here all four days. But she figures it’s at least $500,000.
“I think it’s great exposure for the community,” Buzzell said. “The people love coming here, and they love coming here because of all the partners involved. It takes a lot of moving parts to pull this together.”
Pilgrim said while some participants come alone or with a spouse, others may bring several supporters. She knew of one woman who was competing on her 70th birthday and brought a large number of family members. While many of the participants and volunteers are from the area, Pilgrim estimated the games probably bring in about 1,000 visitors or more.
Pilgrim said the games began as a social event to get seniors connected and more active. While it is still very much a social event, she said, today it can be quite competitive, especially in sports such as basketball. Fierce arguments with referees are not uncommon.