After being closed for two years, Huntsville’s Club 55 is returning to service earlier, and a bit differently, than expected.
The club, which offers affordable activities for people over 55, reopens its doors Thursday morning at Huntsville Town Hall, where they’ve been since 1965.
Dianne Beecraft, Club President, says the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has given them the go-ahead to open ahead of schedule.
“I’ve had so many phone calls over the last two years, because I know they run programs occasionally up at the Summit Centre. Bingo was running in Kearney, and cards in Dwight, and they couldn’t understand why we weren’t open,” says Beecraft. “Well, because we’re in Town Hall, we had to follow and do what Town Hall does. So if Town Hall’s not open, we’re not open.”
According to Beecraft, activities will include the usual mainstays of pool, shuffleboard, knitting, and art. Card games, previously a sticking point because of the close proximity between players, will also be offered.
Beecraft says snacks and refreshments will not be offered just yet, but visitors can bring their own food and drinks.
Proof of vaccination will not be required, and no capacity limits are in place. People will still need to wear masks, but Beecraft says that is subject to change at the advice of the health unit.
“I’m not sure how many people will get out for the first little while because being as we are seniors, some of them are justifiably a little nervous,” says Beecraft. “But once we put out the email the response has been, oh my god, my computer’s just blowing up from people that can’t wait to get out to do something.”
In January, town councillors voted to amalgamate Club 55’s services with the town’s, which comes with a move to the Active Living Centre. Simone Babineau, Director of Community Services, predicted at the time that reopening might have to wait until after the COVID-19 pandemic was over.
After a lengthy discussion about renovation plans for Town Hall Tuesday morning (March 1), councillors voted to keep the Club 55 space as “unrenovated municipal space” for the rest of 2022. This would allow the club to remain in the space until the move to the Active Living Centre, after which it can be used for the upcoming municipal elections.
Beecraft says the earliest possible time for that move would likely be the end of June, adding that a lot still needs to be done.
The club runs from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.