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1T4A8023 webThe colorful jackets displayed the loyalty of NFL fans across the country during the city of McAllen’s Golden Age Olympics cards tournament at the Palmview Community Center recently.

The annual Olympics is a multi-week event with several competitions – from bird watching, to cards to pickleball, shuffleboard and more. While Winter Texans and their parks comprise most of the competitors, residents from across the Valley who meet the criteria can also participate.

500 or Five Hundred is a trick-taking game developed in the United States from Euchre, another card tournament that will take place in February. Most games are played with four players – two against two.

Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills fans, among others wore their team colors proudly. Ironically missing was any Dallas Cowboys garb, maybe because by this time they were also missing from the playoffs – eliminated by the “Pack.”

1T4A8026 webMike Martel, a winter resident at Tip O Texas and a native of Casterville, Ontario, Canada beamed about his Buffalo Bills game later that day against the Kansas City Chiefs, the team jacket being worn by his playing opponent.

“You just want to see me cry,” Martel said following the Chiefs 27-24 victory. “It was sad.”

Talk all around was about the NFL playoffs – and cards. Martel, an avid card player, plans to be back in a couple weeks for the Euchre tournament. Packers’ paraphernalia was the most visible on this day – and Martel said that’s the case in his park as well.

“They’re everywhere – there are too many Packers and Chiefs fans – just like in our park.” His partner, Tommy Evers, is one of those, a Packer fan and from Wisconsin. “Now, the Vikings, that’s a different story. The Vikings fans you don’t see come out too often.”

Martel (“that’s with one l,” he said. “The ones with two ll’s are the rich ones,”) has been coming to the Valley for 12 years, making that three-and-a-half-day drive into Canada. One year, during COVID they left the Valley early because they didn’t know if they would be allowed back into Canada. But they had no issues returning home.

This year, they have their return trip scheduled at the beginning of baseball season – coincidentally when his favorite baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays, open the season at the Houston Astros.

1T4A8073 Buffalo Bills fan web“They’re not your beloved Yankees but they’re my team,” he joked to me.

“I like the Blue Jays,” I responded as we barbed back and forth. “After all, they never really hurt anybody.”

Barbara Paul, from Pharr South and a resident of Davenport, Iowa, had paired with her husband. The couple are common features at the card games during the GAO. Paul has won at hearts on a couple of occasions and her husband took third this year in the event.

While she admits that she’s not super competitive, she plays for the fun of it and the camaraderie. Still, there’s some competitive blood boiling in her.

1T4A8090 Chiefs Fan web“I mean, you’re always thinking of getting good cards and wondering if you can make a run,” she said. “But I haven’t done well, these past two years.”

Coincidentally, that’s when I met her – but it’s not my fault. Just go blame a Packers fan – that’s what Martel would probably do.

More of GAO Coming up

Here’s what’s coming up during the next two weeks at the Golden Age Olympics:

1T4A8076 Lady with Cancer Vera Janis webOn-site registration will not be accepted, and participants must register a week in advance prior to the event. In-person signups are held at the following sites:

Lark Community Center

2601 Lark Ave (956) 681-3340
Monday-Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Las Palmas Community Center

1921 N. 25th Street (956) 681-3350
Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Palmview Community Center

3401 Jordan Road (956) 681-3360
Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Online registration can be found at Mcallenparks.net.

Or by mail to: McAllen Parks and Recreation; ATTN GAO 2023; P.O. Box 220, McAllen, TX 78505

Upcoming events

Thursday, Jan. 25

Billiards 8-ball mixed
10 a.m.
Eddy’s Sports Tavern, McAllen

Friday, Jan. 26

Shuffleboard Doubles
9 a.m.
Casa Del Sol RV Resort

Jigsaw Puzzles
1 p.m.
Lark Community Center

Saturday, Jan. 27

Table Tennis
8 a.m.
La Palmas Community Center

Monday, Jan. 29

Shuffleboard Doubles
9 a.m.
Casa Del Sol RV Resort

10 a.m.
Las Palmas Community Center

Tuesday, Jan. 30

Bowling Mixed Doubles
1 p.m.,
Flamingo Bowl

Wednesday, Jan. 31

Movie Show
10 a.m.
McAllen Public Library

Thursday, Feb. 1

Contract Bridge
10 a.m.
Las Palmas Community Center

Bean Bag Toss Men
10 a.m.
Palm View Community Center

Friday, Feb. 2

Shuffleboard Doubles
9 a.m.
Casa Del Sol RV resort

Bean Bag Toss Women
10 a.m.
Palm View Community Center

Saturday, Feb. 3

Bake Off
Dessert Dropoff 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Judging 12:45 p.m -1:45 p.m.
Pickup 2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Las Palmas Community Center

Bean Bag Toss Mixed
10 a.m.
Palm View Community Center