Boomerangs flew high in the sky Monday morning, spinning and twirling, while others nosedived into the dewy grass.
“It’s not as easy as it looks,” said Marilyn Gladish, a Sandusky senior citizen who gave boomerang flying a shot during the Masters Challenge of Erie and Lorain counties.
In existence for 10 years, the Masters Challenge was designed to keep senior citizens active and make the community aware of local organizations who offer healthy activities.
“Older people can’t engage in what they don’t know (about),” Serving Our Seniors director Sue Daugherty said. “We’re engaging people who are already in the business of recreation and exercise to basically promote their services to the older generation.”
Daugherty said a group of organizations were pulled together and asked what services they would like to showcase.
A list of over 30 activities was compiled and divided throughout the week-long challenge.
Monday morning, Gladish, Bob Tracht of Huron and Don Skelton tried boomerang flying with the help of instructor Jim Halstead.
“It keeps the blood circulating,” Halstead, 72, said. “I’ve been doing this for about 17 or 18 years. Sometimes they come back and sometimes they don’t.”
Halstead toted to the event a red duffle bag full of boomerangs in all shapes, sizes and colors. This offering was only a small portion of the 300 “flying wooden sticks” he’s accumulated since taking up the hobby.
Halstead patiently taught the proper flying techniques — hold the boomerang vertically in your hand, pinched between thumb and forefinger, flick wrist upward, step with left foot and let go.
The handful of pupils cheered and clapped as an American Flag-colored boomerang shot through the air and came back.
“You flick your wrist and throw it like you’re going to snap a whip or a wet towel at somebody,” Halstead said chuckling. “You have to wait for it to come back. You really want it to come back.”
As each took a turn, the remaining group members watched intently, encouraged, cheered and laughed with one another when the wind whipped the colored sticks in unintended directions.
“I like trying new things,” Gladish said. “I participated in this event last year and wanted to see if I had improved any. I’m thinking I should have bought my own and practiced a lot more.”
Halstead said the key to boomerang flying, like any other activity, is definitely lots of practice.
“The bottom line is you just have to keep on doing it,” he said. “It never hurts to keep trying and learn from mistakes.”
Tracht and Skelton both took turns with several boomerangs, laughing and questioning Halstead as to what they did wrong.
“It’s fun,” Skelton said. “It’s all part of the Senior Olympics. I sign up for a lot of events. You get to meet a lot of nice people and it seems like every year there’s something different to do.”
Other events during the week are beach volleyball, Texas Hold’em, ping pong, croquet, shuffle board, mini-golf and swimming.