KINGSPORT — Members of the Mount Carmel Senior Center partied like it’s 2020 Friday evening during a special event to make up for all the celebrations they missed during the COVID-19 shutdown.

About 45 seniors met at the Press Room in Kingsport for a party and catered meal.

MCSC Director Sue Jarrett made a centerpiece for each table representing the holidays they didn’t get to spend together during COVID, including St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The MCSC just reopened full time five days per week on July 1, and Jarrett told the Times News that Friday’s Celebration 2020 was the first time they’ve all had an opportunity to get together at the same time since the COVID shutdown in March 2020.

“Several times I had drive-throughs down there,” Jarrett said. “We couldn’t be in the center, but they drove through and we could wave at each other and say hi. Do a little bit of socializing like that.”

They tried to stay in touch, but Jarrett said it wasn’t the same.

Jarrett added, “But I told them all the time, when all this is over we’re going to have a big party. We’re going to celebrate everything all at one time. That’s what this is about, as you see all the different decorations on the tables. All the different seasons. The special times we usually share that we couldn’t last time. We’re getting them all in.”

Aside from the meal, they had door prize drawings and a lot of fellowship.

“A lot of people this is their first time being out,” Jarrett said. “We’ve seen some tonight who have not been back to the center yet.”

Senior Center member Helen Tipton said she’s been looking forward to Friday’s party for a long time.

“It’s nice to get out and be with people and to get to know and see new people,” Tipton said. “If it wasn’t for the Senior Citizens Center, I wouldn’t be here. I missed everybody terribly. It was terrible staying at home all the time. I’m used to getting out and doing something. It was hard for me to stay home.”

Every senior in attendance received a bottle of hand sanitizer and a mask that reads “Keep calm and stay 6 feet away.”

“That sort of describes what we have been through,” Jarrett told her seniors. “This is something that I hope we never have to use again, but this is a good reminder what we have been through. We have persevered, and for that I’m truly thankful and give thanks to the good Lord above.”

The MCSC, which is located on the upper floor of Mount Carmel City Hall, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

About 45 members of the Mount Carmel Senior Center gather Friday evening at The Press Room in Kingsport to participate in "Celebration 2020", which was the first opportunity theyvehad as a group to all get together at the same time, and make up for all the celebrations they missed due to the COVID-19 shutdown

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