PORT CHARLOTTE — For most of the people attending Sunday’s luncheon at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County, it was a Sunday like any other. Many of them had not realized that every year the Sunday following Labor Day marks Grandparents Day, a national holiday
that has been around for over 30 years.
“We didn’t know anything about it,” said Lena Dallas, 10. “We were at church when our friends said they were coming, so we came too.”
For Lena and her family, dining with grandmother Irene Dallas, 74, after church is a common Sunday routine.
“It’s important to spend time with our grandparents because they are a part of the family and we love them,” Lena said.
The Cultural Center, at 2280 Aaron St., offered an affordable lunch buffet for families wishing to take their grandparents out to eat. From 11 a.m. to
2 p.m., the center presented a supper special consisting of three meal alternatives, roast beef, baked chicken or fish for under $10. For $13, guests could sample all three proteins and receive salad, dessert and a drink, which were also included.
“It’s a great place to bring grandparents because they have the opportunity to shop at some of the stores without having to walk too far,” said Theresa Mang, 83, who volunteers at the center at least three days a week. “Plus our prices are affordable for the families.”
Bisque It Studio was there with plain 20-ounce mugs that children could decorate as a gift for grandparents. Each mug cost $15, which included painting and firing fees.
“We love working with families and anything to do with creating memories,” said Liz Weisiger, 47, who owns the art studio with her husband.
The idea for a day honoring grandparents has been around since 1970, when Marian McQuade began a campaign to set aside a special day just for them. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a presidential proclamation designating National Grandparents Day. The first official observance was Sept. 9, 1979 — and has been celebrated every year since.
Most grandchildren attending Sunday’s event made a point to visit their grandparents on a regular basis.
“If you don’t see them, you might forget about them,” said Laura Combs, 8, who was a friend of the Dallas family.
Lena said she likes to spend time with her grandparents because they are “crafty.”
“My grandpa does woodwork,” she said. “He made an owl, and my grandma and I painted it.”
The Cultural Center has been accommodating elderly residents for over 50 years.
In 1960, hundreds of retirees had relocated to Port Charlotte, but developer Jim Ball reported that they were having difficulty adjusting to idle time without friends or family nearby.
That’s when Frank Mackle, board chairman of General Development, started an adult education school.
Mrs. Wanda Jaques gave $100 to start off the venture. Residents had donated over 2,000 volumes of books within a few months.
“I remember when it was just a little library,” recalled Alice Knight, 92, who attended the grandparents event with her family. “I’ve taken Spanish classes here and computer classes . . . (the Cultural Center) has been a great asset to the community.”