The 2009 Summer National Senior Games will offer much more than sporting events. The two-week celebration of health and fitness will feature a torch run and cauldron lighting at Palo Alto City Hall, live music, a "sports legends" booth, health lecture series, a fiesta and more.
The 15-day event officially kicks off Saturday, Aug. 1, with the arrival of the flame. The torch will be carried by athletes from a sailboat at Pier 39 in San Francisco to AT&T Park, where it will be run around the bases during a San Francisco Giants game, then brought to Palo Alto by Caltrain.
Runners will carry the torch around Stanford University, arriving at 8:30 p.m. at Palo Alto's King Plaza in front of City Hall, where the 155-pound solar-powered cauldron will be lit.
Fireworks are planned to explode overhead.
Throughout the Games, from Aug. 2 to 14, Stanford will host the Peak Performance lecture series at Avery Rehearsal Hall each day at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Lectures by Stanford physicians and others will include: the Athlete's Skin; Peak Performance -- Observations from Olympians; Successful Aging Across the Lifespan; and topics ranging from biomechanics and performance enhancement to injuries of the foot and shoulder.
Free concerts will be presented at the Euflexxa Entertainment Stage on nine days (Aug. 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12 and 13)from 6 to 8:30 p.m., with musical groups ranging from a '40s Big Band to New Orleans jazz to country. Highlights include Pete Escovedo's mariachi and folklorico music and beach band Papa Do Run Run.
A booth in the athletes' village will feature a cooking demonstration and lecture on nutrition for best performance and illness prevention by chef Jesse Cool and Dr. Chris Gardner.
Sports legends such as ice skater Peggy Fleming and tennis champion Rosie Casals will speak and sign autographs at the sports legend booth.
Midway through the Games, on Saturday, Aug. 8, a "Celebration of Athletes" will be held at Stanford's Maples Pavilion. Some of the Bay Area's most celebrated Olympic and professional athletes will appear at the event, which begins at 6 p.m. and is being presented by event company e2k, which is co-producing the Games and has organized ceremonies ranging from the Super Bowl to the Presidential Inauguration.
The celebration will include a parade of flags and athletes. Live entertainment for the ticketed event will be provided by Mickey Thomas of the Starship and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, who will debut the Senior Games' theme song, "Long Live the Challenge."
Some free seats will be offered to the public (not athletes and their guests) by registering online at the Games website. The limit is four tickets per registrant.
The Games will also include two free parties: the Sock Hop and Ice Cream Social on Friday, Aug. 7, and the 60's Be In and Psychedelic Ice Cream Social on Wednesday, Aug. 12, both from 5:30 to 7 p.m. No reservations are required.
Other parties, most from 5:30 to 7 p.m., will require tickets. They include the Wine Tasting & Cheese Sampling (Sunday, Aug. 2, $20); USO Club and Microbrewery Beer Tasting (Tuesday, Aug. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m., $20); Big Easy New Orleans Style Party (Wednesday, Aug. 5, $25); South of the Border Fiesta (Thursday, Aug. 6, $25); Taste of California and California Beach Party (Sunday, Aug. 9, $25); Real Texas Barbeque (Tuesday, Aug. 11, $25); California Wine & Cheese Party (Thursday, Aug. 13, $25); and Micro Brewery Beer Tasting (Friday, Aug. 14, $20).
In addition to the festivities, two key health centers will be set up on campus: the Wellness Center and the Cool Zone. Staff at the Wellness Center will treat anything from colds and nausea to injuries. The Cool Zone specializes in hydration and will be located in the lower level of Maples Pavilion.
The City of Palo Alto is also planning special events. It will sponsor Fun on the Plaza in front of City Hall on Aug. 3 and 10 from 4 to 7 p.m., with activities for children and adults, including a climbing wall. A Family Art Day will be held at the Palo Alto Art Center on Aug. 9, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Other city events are being planned; details will be available on the city's website.