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Lake Kennedy to celebrate 25 years

By Staff | Nov 25, 2015

Since it was built in 1990, the Lake Kennedy Center has been a community landmark, not just seniors, but everyone.

On Friday, Dec. 4, from 1 to 3 p.m., the center will celebrate 25 years with a celebration fitting for such a milestone, featuring music, food and fun.

Among the highlights of the event will be the musical stylings of Just Johnna, a five-time Buffalo Music female vocalist award winner who has entertained audiences for more than 30 years.

It is a free event which all members of the community are invited to. It will include lunch, catered by Bob Evans, and cake, donated by B.J’s. Brad Jessen with Edward Jones, Jack Pacheco of Settlers Insurance and Tom Patton with the National Cremation Society and Myer Lee Manor are also community partners.

Lake Kennedy Center was born out of the need to have a senior center and recreational space in the central part of Cape Coral as people started moving north from downtown, according to Gloria Tate, a former city council member and Cape Coral “pioneer” who moved to the city before its incorporation

“As the population began to move from downtown to the Santa Barbara corridor, we realized there needed to be other opportunities beside the Rotino Center,” Tate said. “So we built the senior center, and with that came Special Populations.”

All that, coupled with the Boardwalk and later Sun Splash, also gave seniors and the community green space and a walkability lifestyle the city was looking for, Tate said.

Today, the center is enjoyed by the entire community. Church groups often rent rooms on the weekends to conduct their services and many special events are held there.

“It’s another outlet for the community to hold club events, dances, etc,” Tate said. “As the Cape grows we need more than one place for the community to gather, and we’ll probably need one in the northwest one day.”

Myra Del Leon, Lake Kennedy recreation specialist, said it is the community members, who also volunteer, who make the center come alive every week, and not exclusively for seniors.

“Lake Kennedy Center is a cornerstone in the community where seniors come to have fun, but it’s alive only because of the members of the community that support the programs daily and come to our other functions,” Del Leon said. “It’s for the community by the community.”

Today, the center offers dozens of activities and programs for individuals 50 and older, including membership, congregate meals, day trips, and special events. On any given day, between 300 and 400 people visit.

Among the dozens of offerings are fitness classes, dance classes and other activities such as karaoke, golf, billiards, and bridge.

“We try to do a lot for our seniors, and they give back by coming here to celebrate and create memories. There have been so many memories here,” Del Leon said. “We try to educate them and empower them to make informed decisions.”