Thursday, August 09, 2001

Seniors picnic hot spot for politics

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MELBOURNE, Ky. — As he sat sweating at Wednesday's Campbell County Senior Citizen Picnic, 74-year-old Art Reekers was thinking about his adopted hometown of Fort Myers, Fla.

        “It can't be much hotter there,” the Dayton, Ky., native said as he sat with his boyhood friend, Ed Hausfeld, also 74, of Bellevue. “It's not too bad if you sit under one of these picnic shelters, but out in the sun it's pretty darn hot.”

[photo] Audrey Clift,of Silver Grove tells Gov. Paul Patton he's the “best-lookin' governor this state's ever had.”
(Patrick Reddy photos)
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        Temperatures in the 90s and humidity that made it feel hotter knocked down attendance at the annual summer gathering in Campbell County's Ed Pendery Park. Organizers estimated the crowd at 700 to 800, compared with more than 1,000 seniors who have attended in recent years.

        The weather will likely convince the Campbell County Fiscal Court to change the date of the picnic, probably to early or mid-September, said Campbell County Commissioner Dave Otto, a Fort Thomas Democrat.

        “People love to come out, they want to come out and see their old friends and just have a good time,” said Mr. Otto. “But it's just too hot for some people, and I think after today a lot of people will be glad if we move the date.”

        Despite the weather there were no reports of heat-related health problems, said Justin Saner, one of several EMTs from Silver Grove on duty at the picnic.

        “We have a TANK bus running with the air conditioner on that people can come sit in for a while,” Mr. Saner said.

[photo] “Dude” Harting of Ludlow takes a break from the heat at Wednesday's annual Campbell County Senior Citizen Picnic in Ed Pendery Park.
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        “We have plenty of water and there are some big fans moving the air around under the picnic shelters.”

        Seniors come to the picnic to dance, play bingo, see old friends, drink beer and soft drinks and eat a late afternoon chicken dinner.

        Politicians flock to work the crowd of people known to be regular voters.

        “I love to come because everybody here just loves to shake hands,” said State Rep. Jim Callahan, a Wilder Democrat.

        Among the politicians were Gov. Paul Patton and Lt. Gov Steve Henry.

        “I've been here quite a few times,” Mr. Patton said as he worked the crowd, shaking hands, patting backs and posing for pictures. “But I don't remember one quite this hot.”

        Fort Thomas resident Ben Neltner, a Democrat running for county coroner next year, passed out pens and refrigerator magnets carrying his name.

        For incumbent coroner Dr. Mark Schweitzer, a Fort Thomas Republican, the picnic was a chance to renew old acquaintances. “People out here never forget you,” he said.

        Campbell County Jailer Greg Buckler, who hasn't yet drawn an opponent, was reminding people about his Saturday night fund-raiser at Silver Meadows in Silver Grove.

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