After taking a week-long cruise around local establishments to replicate a trip to Lake Michigan, the seniors at Mountain Park Senior Living in Ahwatukee enjoyed a new kind of social event.

With the hallways of the retirement and assisted living center decorated like a cruise ship, the center’s Director of Fun Michelle Major said the program is relatively new.

“Last year was the first event like this company-wide,” Major said. “It came from the idea by just one community, so we thought all of the communities would do the same. The residents really like it, it’s something new and different.”

For the whole week, nearly 120 residents at the center participated in a series of day-long activities all with a theme to different cities and places around Lake Michigan — as if touring on a cruise.

After singing an emphatic performance of a classic jazz song during a karaoke happy hour Wednesday, resident Carl Tighe told his fellow cruise attenders he has “had so much fun on this ship.”

“It’s a lot of fun getting to know other people here,” Tighe said about the cruise tour. “I’ve had fun.”

During the week, residents sang karaoke, played “beach” volleyball, bingo, dice games, watched cooking demonstrations, heard a performance by local jazz group, Jazzatukee, and visited Detroit-themed restaurant, Sunshine’s Motor City Café in Tempe, among other trips. The weekdays were also themed to places like Beaver Island, Mackinac Island, Traverse City and Chicago.

“Everyone likes a surprise, and it’s something out of the ordinary here,” Major said.

During happy hour karaoke, nearly 40 residents sipped wine and beer in the dining hall while fellow seniors and center staff sang familiar songs.

Holding the hand of her friend as they sang from their chairs, 93-year-old Melda Mallon said there were so many interesting activities to do, she didn’t have time to attend them all.

“I try to go to as many events as I can,” said Mallon, mentioning her personal motto of keeping happy, healthy and active.

After taking a dance with Tighe during the karaoke session, hosted by AAA Entertainment, Major said she enjoys seeing the center’s residents interact.

“It’s really nice to see this kind of social exchange,” she said.

Part of the larger retirement community company, Spectrum, which has 29 centers nationwide, each of the communities around the country offered the “Cruise of Lake Michigan” to its residents, and Mountain Park plans on hosting the cruise every year.

Having been a resident of Mountain Park since October, Mallon looked around during the “cruise” and said she appreciates the staff.

“This is it for me, it’s home.”

Mountain Park Senior Living is located at 4475 E. Knox Road in Ahwatukee. For more information, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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