It was 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, and Clarabelle Cooper, a senior resident of Brigantine, was already up and out of the house, sitting with some friends at a long table in the city's senior center, sipping coffee and chatting about the center's new space, while patiently waiting for the bingo game to begin.

The Tuesday before, Nov. 15, the city's new senior center officially opened. It's located in the newly opened, state of the art, $5 million Brigantine Beach Community Center on 42nd Street, where the former St. Philip the Apostle School once stood.

The old senior center building, the Ernie Settani Senior Center at 31st and Bayshore Drive, is up for sale.

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Comparing the old and new center, Cooper spoke for all in saying "we just love it. It's bright and airy, and there's not one bad thing you can say about it."

There is no argument or doubt about it, the new center is a huge improvement to the old, said Linda Nace, the senior site manager. In the first week at the next location, the center has welcomed in about a dozen new seniors.

"No new people would want to come to the old center," Nace said. "It was just too dark and ancient looking."

The old place was windowless and small, said Marie Aliantro, of Brigantine, who sat next to Cooper in the multipurpose room, with a stack of dimes and a few bingo boards spread out on the table before her.

Each weekday from 9 a.m. to noon, the senior center hosts free programs and activities for the seniors, including bingo, bridge, poker, Wii bowling, exercise classes, quilting and more. At noon, they have lunch. The senior center asks for a $1 donation per day for lunch, but it's not mandatory.

Typically, the senior center draws a daily crew of about 20 seniors, ages 60 and older. In the summer, the number of daily attendees doubles, Nace said. Most seniors arrive at about

9 a.m. on one of the free volunteer-driven shuttle buses.

"We get in at 9, get our coffee and toast, sometimes some of the ladies bring in goodies to share, then we go play bingo or join in an activity or exercise class, depending on the day," Cooper said. Bingo is hosted every Tuesdays and Thursdays at

9:30 a.m.

While the women tend to enjoy playing bingo and making crafts, the men usually gravitate to the game room, where they shoot pool or play poker. The men also like to venture outside to play bocce ball, said Carmen Giletto, a longtime senior center regular.

"We got a few new shooters since we moved, too," Giletto said.

Aliantro said she is hoping more Brigantine seniors join the social center now.

"We have 90-some-year-olds with more energy than any 50-year-old I've ever met," she said. "Age is just a number here."

Contact Elisa Lala:


If you go

Brigantine Beach Community Center & the Brigantine Senior Center:

265 42nd St., Brigantine


Free shuttle service:

With only 24 hours notice, Brigantine volunteers will provide transportation to and from the senior center as well as to errands within Brigantine, such as shopping, a trip to the hairdresser or medical appointments. Call 609-266-7585 to make arrangements.


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