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Team Brighton defeats reigning champs at Senior Trike Fest

BIG CYPRESS — The Brighton Reservation reclaimed the title of Trike Fest champions after defeating reigning champs Big Cypress on Nov. 7.

Brighton won the title for four consecutive years before Big Cypress claimed top honors for the first time last year, so the victory proved bittersweet for Brighton.

“I guess practice makes perfect ‘cause we got the big trophy back,” said Brighton competitor Elbert Snow. “We’ve been having practice for three to four weeks. [The win] made us feel good.”

About 60 seniors gathered at the Big Cypress Aviation Hangar for the eighth annual Senior Trike Fest, which included a variety of courses and obstacles, as well as friendly competition among the Brighton, Big Cypress, Hollywood, Tampa and Immokalee reservations.

Health Department director Connie Whidden said the event keeps seniors active and healthy while offering a chance for them to interact with Tribal members from different reservations. And because many reservations practiced for weeks prior to the event, it meant additional exercise for the seniors.

“It was good seeing everyone out,” she said. “It turned out good. Everyone seemed happy.”

Seniors competed in five events aimed at testing their coordination and skills on a tricycle: the target toss, the maze, the cone weave, the puzzle challenge and the ladder ball (the only event not performed on a trike). In addition, the reservations competed in team relays that served as a highlight of the event.

Each team consisted of five people, with the first four teammates competing in the cone weave relay and the fifth one piecing together a puzzle to finish the relay. Brighton swept passed the competition with a time of 4:59.00, while Big Cypress placed second (5:37.59), Hollywood placed third (10:58.84) and Tampa placed fourth (11:33.10).

“It’s a good thing for the seniors,” Brighton Board Rep. Larry Howard said. “It’s all about the seniors’ health. I think there should be more things for them to do like this.”

The Trike Fest also included awards for Best Decorated Trike and Best Dressed Triker. Each reservation decorated a tricycle in the event’s theme, Hawaiian luau, and competitors also dressed up, sporting Hawaiian prints, flowers and shells.

Team Tampa took home the honor of Best Decorated Trike, while Brighton’s Alice Sweat, Jenny Johns and Whidden took first, second and third place, respectively, in the Best Dressed Triker competition. Big Cypress senior Carol Cypress tied for third as well, and Tampa’s Bobby Henry won first place in the men’s division.

For the fourth consecutive year, Team Tampa also won for Most Participants by Percentage with 46.15 percent.

“We tried the best we could,” said Tampa competitor Nancy Frank. “We practiced and decorated a bike. It looks like Hawaii now.”

Individual medals were handed out for each event and each age group, with all participating reservations claiming spots on the podium. Overall winners in each women’s age group were Wanda Bowers (Hollywood), Jenny Johns (Brighton), Mable Tichenor (Brighton) and Linda Henry (Tampa). Overall winners in each men’s age group were Ruggy Jumper (Hollywood), Joe Osceola (Hollywood), Billie Micco (Brighton) and Bobby Henry (Tampa) – tied in their category – and Tommy Billie (Big Cypress).

“I’ve been part of this since it first started,” said Big Cypress competitor Edna McDuffie, community outreach coordinator for the Health Department. “It has grown tremendously. This is a good event, and I love to see everyone come out from the other reservations.”

Brighton Councilman Andrew J. Bowers Jr. was happy for his reservation’s victory.

“They’re an example of what practice and hard work can do for you,” he said.

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