For her first try at pickleball, Ruth Kassanga of the Upper East Side showed a lively backhand that caught her opponent by surprise at a free Wellness, Fitness, and Pickleball Fair for all ages in Carl Schurz Park on September 23.
Kassanga, an 87-year-old immigrant from Germany, loved to ski, play tennis and run. She decided to try pickleball for fun. She was one of the more than 200 residents attending the event sponsored by Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Health Advocates for Older People.
The annual event added a new and exciting feature — a pickleball clinic — to a range of physical activities and exercises to promote good health including yoga, self-defense, strength training and tai chi.
Pickleball is among the nation’s fastest-growing recreational sports and appears to be gaining traction among a population seeking the therapeutic benefits of exercise and physical activity in the post-COVID era.
“Pickleball is wildly popular in my district,” said Seawright. “Everywhere I go I hear constituents asking for more pickleball courts in our parks. Mayor Adams is a big pickleball fan. We recently toured Roosevelt Island together where he met with constituents and enthusiastically declared his support for the sport and for meeting the needs of pickleball players.”
Anthony Perez, the newly appointed New York City Parks Commissioner for Manhattan, joined in the fun by quickly taking up a paddle and demonstrating his serve.
“Pickleball is attracting aficionados from the young, the not so young, and all levels of athletic abilities,” said Seawright. “Just about everyone can have fun playing pickleball!”
Our Town was a sponsor of the event.