If walls could talk, this year’s Western Welcome Week grand marshal would be much easier to interview.
Somebody needs to get the Douglas H. Buck Recreation Center a really big cowboy hat and teach it how to do a nice parade wave, because come this August, it will be leading the parade down Main Street.
Unless it agrees to let Mike Keane, Linda Aluise, Ellen Martin and perhaps some other staff members ride in its place.
“After we all got over thinking it was a joke, we realized it was a perfect fit,” Martin, the center’s living-well coordinator, said with a laugh.
She’s right, given that this year’s theme is “Fun & Fit!”
“The Buck Center ... was created to meet the health and wellness needs of a diverse community,” said Mike Giesen, WWW parade chair. “The facility is appealing to both seniors and to the younger generation, encouraging wellness through the use of its facility.”
Since the center opened downtown on March 22, 2005, it’s offered services that benefit all aspects of health. There’s a free Fitness 101 class so people can test the waters of working out. There are community rooms where groups like AARP and the PUB Policy Group meet to exercise their brains. Seniors can volunteer there in exchange for property-tax rebates, which helps keep them fiscally fit.
“It’s not just a place to go work out, it’s a social center where people come and they feel welcome, where everybody says hi,” said Martin.
With 400,000 visits annually, that’s a lot of greetings. From aerobics to zumba, Boot Camp to Silver Sneakers, Power Hour to Butts-N-Gutts, there’s a class to fit anybody’s style. And with on-site babysitting, free orientation, pool, lounge, lunch and library, there are plenty of reasons to check it out.
“I think we’re pretty proud of our center, and it shows,” said Aluise, senior-program coordinator.
Douglas H. Buck would be, too. He was a successful local businessman who battled polio as a young man. He didn’t believe doctors who said he wouldn’t be able to walk, and became devoted to fitness as a result.
After his death at the age of 88 in 1993, his wife, Mildred “Mims” Buck, and their children established the Buck Foundation, which donated $1 million to kick off construction of the 54,000-square-foot center.
The building’s design incorporates Littleton’s history as a stop on the train line. The south side is reminiscent of a depot and overlooks the downtown light-rail station, where the former Denver & Rio Grande Depot is now known as Romancing the Bean.
The site itself has historic significance to the community. Adjacent to the Littleton Municipal Courthouse, the Arapahoe County Courthouse once occupied the land.
Looking to the future, Giesen notes the center will have a positive impact on the community for years to come.
“We do provide that fun and fitness atmosphere,” said Keane.