BIG CYPRESS — Eight days after Veterans Day, military pride remained on display Nov. 19 as the theme of the 11th annual Senior Trike Fest. Forty-seven seniors from Big Cypress, Brighton, Hollywood and Immokalee showed their patriotism while competing for glory and trophies in Big Cypress.
“It’s an annual social gathering, but at the same time we want them to have fun, some friendly competition and exercise,” said Cathy Cypress, Big Cypress fitness site supervisor, whose department organized the event at the aviation hanger.
Events that kept participants busy included the cone weave, target toss, maze, puzzle challenge and team relay. Throughout the day seniors encouraged their teammates as they navigated the challenges. But the pinnacle event, the team relay race, brought out the competitive spirit; seniors weaved as fast as they could through the cones to the cheers of their teammates.
“You have to practice a lot to build up your strength and improve your health,” said President Mitchell Cypress, who took fourth place in the cone weave. “I guess I didn’t practice enough this year.”
Seniors competed within their age groups: super seniors ages 55-61, golden seniors ages 62-68 and diamond seniors ages 69 and up. Those who couldn’t ride bikes became “hikers” and competed in ladder ball, corn hole and target toss.
“Some of those people are really good,” said Edna McDuffie, who competed as a hiker and took first place in ladder ball. “Some people like the competition, but I just come out to have fun.”
Helene Buster participated for the first time. She had not ridden a tricycle until a day before Trike Fest, but despite her inexperience, she took fourth place in the puzzle challenge.
“I’m a two-wheeler,” she said. “It’s harder to balance on a trike; if you go around a curve, you could go over. On a bike, you know how to balance.”
Each reservation also created elaborately decorated trikes and vied to be judged the best.
The four trikes on display created a sea of olive drab and were festooned with military regalia. A member of each team described their reservation’s trike to the crowd.
“Ours looks like it’s been through the war,” said David Jumper, of Hollywood, whose trike resembled a well-worn tank.
Big Cypress entered a trike inside a dome of army green camouflage netting, which represented a five star general’s helmet.
Brighton’s trike was a tank surrounded by the American and Seminole Tribe flags with the motto “Gone But Not Forgotten” painted on the side.
“We wanted to remember our soldiers,” Alice Sweat said.
The winning trike from Immokalee featured a determined-looking mannequin soldier driving a jeep, with Sho Na Bish painted on the front bumper. The jeep pulled a large wagon adorned with photos of tribal veterans and the names of fallen tribal soldiers.
“This is for our fallen soldiers,” said Linda Beletso, who competed despite having had surgery on her arm and hand just four days earlier.
Raffle prizes included baskets filled with electric guitars and other Hard Rock paraphernalia, bouquets of flowers and arrangements of beautifully presented fresh fruit.
But the big win went to Big Cypress seniors, who took trophies for most participation and overall points.
“It was a tough competition,” said Ruggy Jumper, of Hollywood, who took second place in the target toss and corn hole. “But it’s a nice social event. You get to see people you haven’t seen in a while; it’s always a good time.”