Thursday, August 03, 2000

Old Timers Day returns to East Side

Festival expected to draw thousands

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — On Covington's East Side, the annual Old Timers neighborhood reunion is so popular that current residents — and many who have moved out of state — routinely plan their summer vacations around it.

        “Everybody looks forward to this event,” said organizer Dave Housley. “They usually set aside the first weekend in August for Old Timers Day.”

What: Old Timers Millennium 2000.
Where: Randolph Park, Eighth and Greenup Sts. in Covington.
When: 7:45 p.m.-midnight Friday; 9 a.m.-midnight Saturday; and 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. On Sunday, the event moves to the Elks on 11th Street in Covington at 9 p.m. for presentation of awards.
Special attractions: Old Timers Softball game, 7:45 p.m. Friday; Old Timers Basketball, 11 a.m. Saturday; United Christian Community Church musical presentation, 9:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday; and Men's Softball Tournament and Men's Basketball Tournament Sunday.
        Former East Side residents from as far as Califor nia, Florida and New York are expected to visit Randolph Park this weekend for the 14th annual Old Timers reunion, Mr. Housley said. Originally a daylong event, the social and athletic events now stretch over six days, with most of them scheduled this weekend.

        Mr. Housley, who's lived on the East Side for decades, expects 2,000 to 3,000 people will stop by the L-shaped park this weekend for the sports tournaments and live music. Many will pitch tents and camp out for weekend.

        Besides showing off the good things happening on the East Side, Mr. Housley said, he hopes Old Timers Millennium 2000 will help spur redevelopment efforts in the predominately African-American neighborhood.

        “It gives people an opportunity to have a community-wide family reunion,” said Rollins Davis, executive director of the Northern Kentucky Community Center, a nonprofit social services organization that is next to Randolph Park. “It's a reason to come back to their old neighborhood, bring their kids, and enjoy some entertainment.”

        For the fourth year, the community center at 824 Greenup St. will offer its own festival to supplement Old Timers' activities from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

        Organized by volunteers from the East Side neighborhood, Old Timers Day started in 1986 when two residents challenged each other to a softball game. Mr. Housley, who manages Randolph Park, overheard the conversation, and offered the use of the park's ballfield.

        That first year, Old Timers Day drew about 100 people, Mr. Housley said. However, each year, “it just got bigger and bigger,” he said. Last year, it attracted about 2,000 people on Saturday.


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