The palm trees on the steps of the Memorial Church lent Harvard Yard a tropical look on July 31 as the sounds of steel drums and smells of exotic fruits wafted through the air on a balmy afternoon.
The event, Harvard’s 32nd annual senior picnic, brought approximately 900 senior citizens from across Cambridge to Tercentenary Theatre for a day of food, fun, and dancing.
After a few opening songs from the Cambridge Senior Singers, Cambridge Mayor Ken Reeves officially greeted the guests and introduced Harvard President Drew Faust.
On her way into the Yard, Faust stopped to shake hands and take pictures with the many people curious to meet Harvard’s new leader. She then offered brief remarks to the receptive crowd. “Come back to Harvard often, we are your neighbors, and we hope you have a great day,” said Faust.
Following the new president’s remarks, student volunteers from the Mayor’s Summer Youth Program began serving lunch, Caribbean-spiced chicken with mango salsa, to the hungry guests. The hot weather, Caribbean-inspired food, and music from the Branches Pan-Groove Steel Orchestra created a festive atmosphere that the guests seemed to enjoy.
“I like it because we need diversity, we learn something from the dancing and music, and the young people get to interact with people of all ages,” said Joe Galvin, 71, while taking a break from dancing.
Galvin’s dance partner, local resident and long time picnic attendee, Helen Chin added, “The weather is perfect; the food is great. What’s not to love?”
Like Galvin and Chin, many of the guests seemed to know each other from picnics past.
In addition to seeing old friends and kicking up their heels, the picnickers also took the opportunity to meet the mayor and other local politicians.
“It’s marvelous … to see the seniors really enjoy themselves and have good food and fun with their friends,” said Reeves, whose office, along with the president of Harvard University, sponsors the event.
“I like the music, and the dancing; the people are so happy,” said Solange Richard, another celebrating senior. When asked if she planned on attending next year, she responded, “I’m retired; I have time to come every year!”