My name is LaWanda. I’m 74 years old and have been retired for 12 years. I saw an advertisement in a magazine about Sun City Grand, in Surprise AZ. The name “Surprise” fascinated me and the area looked so beautiful and inviting we had to come see for ourselves.

After our first visit (we visited 3 different times as we couldn’t get enough) we were so taken by the beauty of the amenities, the pleasantness of 4 golf courses, 5 beautiful swimming pools and 90 activities to choose from. There was something for everyone and it was beyond anything I ever imagined. After our visit here, we went across the United States and looked at other retirement communities, and NOTHING even came close to Sun City Grand in Surprise.

My husband of almost 39 years and I live here together and have for almost 7 years. Living here has given us a whole new chapter in our lives. I dance with a performing troupe called, “The Grandettes” and have been doing that since I first saw the annual Variety Show our community puts on every year. When I saw how talented and beautiful the ladies looked on stage (remember that all are over 55 years and older) I immediately joined the troupe.

That was 6 years ago and I’m still dancing and having a blast. I never danced before so starting at age 68 was so out of my comfort zone. I felt like I stepped out of my old skin and put on a new one. I joined 2 golf clubs and live in paradise when it comes to playing golf. 

Let’s not forget that baseball spring training is a very big deal in AZ and in Surprise. I am a HUGE baseball fan. Although AZ has the Diamondbacks as their home team, I’m a fan of the New York Yankees. Since moving here I have met so many wonderful people and have the dearest friends that are mostly like us. Living in Surprise has given me an opportunity to be a part of a community, to join in and make a difference. I volunteer at our church food bank and was also a hospital volunteer.

Our family thinks it is so great that we are able to live in Surprise, and to enjoy our lives as never before. Of course they all love coming to visit and to enjoy the sunshine, baseball and golf. When Doug or I are performing in a show or an event they love to come and watch us. They always let people know that are sitting next to them that we are their parents. All the kids are very proud of us and it makes all the hard work that goes into doing a big show so worth it.

I am a mother of 6 children, 5 sons and an only daughter who died of cancer 3 years ago. I have 15 grandchildren ages 28 to 3. I mostly thought of myself as a Mom and Grandma. Now I see myself as dancer, a golfer, a wife and a lover to husband and best friend Doug. We have been able to connect and become closer in these past years that belong to us alone.

I know that I had a preconceived idea about retirement and actually living in a retirement community with age restrictions of 55 years or older. But believe me I have never been so wrong about anything. I’m so busy and happy to be doing all the things I never dreamed I would be doing and having so much fun at the same time. I’m not just “sitting and knitting” as the saying goes. It’s hard to think of my self as a senior citizen. WHO ME? No way. I try to live in the moment and to have no regrets. I feel younger now then I did at age 55.

I have had ravages of tragedy and tribulation with my daughter’s death as well as with my dear husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year. Six months ago we were told he has ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease). He was very active here at Sun City Grand in the Music Club. Doug sings and plays guitar and was in a 50-60’s Rock n’ Roll band called, “The Roadrunners.” He sang in a jazz group called “Jazzmatazz” and still sings with the “Grand Singers,” a 100 voice choir. All this has become harder as his illness has progressed.

Despite my personal hardships I try to be a good friend and sensitive to others with similar problems. This is my journey and I live it in a thoughtful and generous manner. I have a ONCE in a lifetime opportunity to experience this event with ‘Sunset Daze.’ It has been AMAZING! I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Seriously, who gets to do something like this in life? Well… me!

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I’m Eileen. I’m 64 years young, retired and a budding entrepreneur. We were looking for a home and community we could retire in. Part of our criteria was a community with a social life, golf available and access to a gym and other activities. After looking at several developments we decided this was the place. We made the decision to purchase this house in a short period of time… It was a wonderful choice – to live in Surprise, AZ.

I don’t think about demarcations in life such as age. I am a believer in “seize the day” I think living has taught me how precious time with loved ones and friends is and how important learning, laughing and doing are. I am married to the love of my life, Gary.

We live in a planned community in Surprise. It has so many wonderful amenities; gyms, pools, golf, a learning center, too many clubs to name and best of all so many wonderful talented people. It’s like living on a campus/resort. I feel very blessed. Our community is a wonderful place to enjoy and express your life. 

I have retired since moving here and have made wonderful friends .It has given me the opportunity to do so many things. I think the environment has been conducive to try new things. I’m not sure I would have designed jewelry and started my little venture, “Wow Where’d You Get That” or acted in plays had I not lived here. It is fun to exercise the child in us. I’m having a great time. Surprise is like college since our community is like a campus.

Since moving here I’ve joined the drama comedy club and have done sound tech for shows and have acted. I’ve tried my hand at pickle ball, basic sky diving. My husband and I love to dance and do it more than ever before. I now make jewelry and I am in the process of launching a business, with a lot of encouragement from my friends. I’ve entered the Ms. Senior Arizona contest so I am learning a bit of jazz dance, which I probably will continue. I’m starting golf lessons. I am going to try to take Italian next September.

Our children and relatives think it’s great for us to be living here. They laugh about how busy we are. Sometimes we all would like to live closer. They come when they can; you have limited time when you work. My sister visits often and we love having her here. I love when family and friends come to visit. I love to entertain and cook.

Right now I’m in the Drama and Comedy club. I have volunteered and also use my jewelry to raise money for various charities. You don’t retire from life here; it’s a chance to do all those things you never had time to do, including relaxing, because you had other responsibilities and obligations. I don’t know anyone who is sitting in a rocker waiting for the final sunset.

I try and live in the moment, so I don’t think about what it was like to be younger much. But probably I miss the physicality the most – I used to work 12-16 hours and go play and there was no sagging…Gravity!

What I like most about being older is being really comfortable in my own skin, having time to explore and learn and reflect… Life is about choices and attitude. Time is finite, and as you get older I think you appreciate the grains of sand in the glass and you want them to count.

I try not to sweat the small stuff. I try to choose to be in a good mood and spend my time with positive people. I want to learn from experiences, be more forgiving of myself and others. It’s important to “Dance while you can.”

Being part of the Sunset Daze project has been an exciting adventure and a learning experience. I hope it continues. It has been an impetus to do some things sooner than later. I’ve met some really talented and nice people. One of the perks has been to involve some friends and neighbors, so they could share the experience and tell their stories.

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I’m Linda, 64 years young, semi-retired and interested in finding a part time job. After coming to Surprise, AZ a few times, I found the sun, all the activities and the sense of freedom so welcoming. And I wanted to be close to my guy Bruce who recently bought a home here.

My perception of the aging process has changed because everyone you meet is so full of energy and so active. Everyone is busy walking, dancing, golfing and just having fun….age isn’t an issue. I am single but in a wonderful relationship so I’m not interested in dating anyone else.

Living in Surprise, AZ comes with so many perks in the community, fitness clubs, pools, educational, cultural and recreational activities, golf courses and SUNSHINE!! It is a city filled with energy, activity and new beginnings.

Since being here I have realized a chance to re-discover myself and go back to that exciting high-energy person I used to know. Living in Surprise, AZ is similar to high school and college in that I’m finding out what I’m really about. I’m learning how to live without needing to be something or do something in order to be complete. I’ve just been here a short time but been to Dance Doctors for a couple classes, learned how to shoot a gun and will go back for more, and took a couple fitness classes. Looking forward to doing more of the same. 

My family is very supportive and excited for me. I can’t wait to have a place so they can come visit me and see how fantastic Surprise is. I’m not a member of any clubs yet, still checking them out – check back with me later on that.

A misconception that I would like to dispel about life in Surprise, AZ is that life doesn’t end at 65; for me it’s really the beginning. But what I miss the most about being young would be the innocence and youthful abandonment. What I enjoy most about being older is freedom and learning to be less critical of myself. Not worrying about getting others’ “approval.”

I grew up one of eight children; David, Ann, Sally, Jerome, Jeff, Kendall and Dean. I’ve learned a lot from the loss of my father, brother David and sister, Ann and how important family really is. My father gave us the love of laughter and my mother patience and understanding. My sister was my confidant and my brothers were my support. My children, Terry and Andrea, are my heart and soul – I’m so very proud of them. My 10 grandchildren are the light of my life. And Bruce, the man I love, encourages my individuality and strength. What more could one ask for!

My Sunset Daze experience has forced me to open my eyes and once again see the possibilities within. I no longer need to be looking outside myself for approval and acceptance. I need to set myself free. I am experiencing a renewed faith and learning to believe that I’m beautiful just the way the Lord intended me to be. I want to grow, release the fear and open my heart to life. I want to share that freedom and peace with others and discover the right path to LIVE fully without fear.

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My name is Sandy, I’m 68 years old and retired. My husband and I visited his sister and brother-in-law in Arizona February of 2003 while on vacation from Portland, OR. We absolutely fell in love with the Sun City Grand Retirement community. Since I knew I was going to retire in December of that year, we decided to buy a home. My husband was 8 years younger and still working, so he presented a proposal to his company that allowed him to telecommute when we moved. It was approved and the rest was history. Moving to AZ was the best thing we did. We both loved the sunny days which allowed us to play golf with “NO RAIN GEAR.” I think the sun has such great affect on one’s life in a positive way. I was able to walk in shorts and play golf in shorts, what’s not to like about that, especially in the winter and spring time months of the year. The move gave me another perspective on life. I have never regretted the move.

My life has changed a lot since I moved to Surprise, AZ. Two months after I moved into my new home, my husband was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. After 18 months, he lost his battle to this disease. To say I was devastated is an understatement.

There isn’t a day that I don’t think about him. He was a treasure and the joy of my life. After my husband’s death in February of 2006, I went back to Portland to heal and be close to my family and friends. It was a very good decision on my part. A year after my husband’s death, I met a man and we saw each other for about 2 years. Then the magic was gone and now I’m in the “single” world again. Lately I have stated that I’m really not looking for a man, but if one falls in my lap then we shall see. I love to flirt, so who knows what the future has in store for me in the dating world. After my husband’s death, I had to begin a new life. I have met some life-long girlfriends. They are my best therapy and we all love to laugh, meet for “double pinot grigios,” go out to dinner and movies, and are constantly there for each other when times are good and bad. I am truly blessed. 

Sun City Grand in Surprise, AZ is a little oasis in the valley. Some of the perks living in Surprise is there is so much a person can do. I have always said that if a person is bored living here, then it is their fault for not getting out and doing something about it. Where I live, there are so many clubs and organizations to join. From language clubs, golfing clubs, billiards clubs, tennis and pickle ball clubs, softball, to the Blue Thong Society, you get the picture. Some of the clubs I belong to are the Ladie’s Grand Niners Golf Club, The American Singles Golf Association, and The Blue Thong Society. As far as learning new skills, there are so many opportunities open for just about anything. One of my goals (when I have time and get really, really, old) is to learn Spanish. Sun City Grand has some likeness to high school. There can be little clicks, some harmless gossiping, and of course some dating along the way. It’s a gas to sometimes compare it to high school days.

When I first announced that I was moving to AZ, I thought my older daughter would keel over and die. Her Mother was abandoning her. I know she was shocked as well as my other family members and friends. I had lived in the Portland, OR area for about 30 years, so this was a huge move. Since my move, I have many family members and friends visit. We have a blast when they are here. We go places and see lots of beautiful AZ country. I love to show off Sun City Grand with all its beauty.

There’s not much I miss about being younger. Maybe less wrinkles and being more flexible and bendy. Being older has its benefits. I love my independence, I am blessed that I am financially OK (not rich, but not poor either), I love the ability to be spontaneous, I love being my own BOSS. I think that most people (younger) think that retired people have one foot in the grave just waiting to die. What a lark!!! Life truly begins after retirement.

My Sunset Daze experience has been a hoot. I have had the opportunity to do some outrageous things. Target shooting and hot air ballooning for example and it’s not over yet :) My family and friends can’t wait for the series; I have kept them up to date via Facebook and email. They all are very supportive in this adventure for me and it has been a fun adventure and journey. Who knows where this will take me (if anywhere) but I’m ready for anything. When the doors to life and opportunity open, then why not open it with open arms, you never know what’s behind it. So watch out world, here I come.

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My name is Gail. I’m 70+ and my job is to act, sing and direct plays. I decided to live in Arizona because my son moved here years ago. He said, “Mom, how long do you want to work full time?” He kept sending me brochures about this community and I did want to be closer to him, so I came.

I knew as I got older I still wanted to do what made me happy, which is acting, singing and directing plays. I am not the kind of person to sit around talking about doctors appointments. I am single, not dating. I am too busy doing what I do and not answering to anybody.

I love being in Arizona because the weather is always warm and I am near my son but Surprise needs to grow up and become a culturally diverse city with a transportation system.

I did work full time so that has changed. I was always involved in theater so it hasn’t really changed that much. The only thing that has changed is being involved in Sunset Daze and I am very thrilled to be doing it.

I attended college in New York City. A few years ago I tried taking Spanish lessons but gave it up. When I got to Surprise I joined the singles clubs but found it to be too “cliquey.” I joined Hadassah and sang the Hatikvah at their monthly meetings. I am not really a joiner. I joined the Drama Club and that is plenty.

My son is my only family. He is also my hairdresser. I see him every week to get my hair done.

I would describe myself as outgoing, fun loving and very talented. Life is what you make it. If you want to sit around and do nothing, then you can do it anywhere. I chose not to do that, so whether I am a senior citizen or not, I like to keep busy doing what I love to do.

What do I miss about being young? Being young! What’s not to miss? l don’t enjoy being older. It’s something you have no control over. I hope I can go on the way I am going now – healthy and full of life.

Sunset Daze has been wonderful for me. It has given me an opportunity to show people how talented I am and what I can contribute to the theatrical community. I hope the series continues and I can realize my dream of being a star!

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My name is Jack. I’m 72 years young and retired. I moved to Surprise, AZ to live in Sun City Grand because it is a fantastic active adult community comprised of just about anything you might want to enjoy. To say it is beautiful would be an understatement, and I think I’m growing younger every day.

I am single, active in the singles club and dating. There is so much to do that I seem to be busier now than when I was working, and I’m enjoying every minute. There are about 10,000 homes and 18,000 people in Sun City Grand, and about 400 in the singles club. The city of Surprise is one of the fastest growing new towns in the suburban Phoenix (metro) area with about 110,000 people, and is close to Phoenix/Scottsdale for big-time shopping and entertainment.

Living in Surprise is a lot more educational than high school or college because there is a lot of intelligent experience here – so many interesting people with fascinating backgrounds! I’m doing a lot more dancing and entertaining than ever, and I’m more fit than I was 20 years ago. 

My family is in Southern California and would like to have me there, but I like it here. They don’t visit here much so I go there three or four times a year. I have a wonderful little puppy named “Mosin” (15 pounds). He is a Shih-Tzu and is apricot and white and yes, we sleep together. We go to the dog park every day and that’s where we talk politics to anyone who will listen. It gets to be great fun.

As a single guy, I think most people see me as a jock, but I’m really all about love and laughter. I’m searching for someone to share the rest of my life with – someone very special, and a big sense of humor is important. For me, love and laughter are the two most important parts of life. I’m just not 100% right without both of them.

Let me dispel one great misconception about life as a senior citizen – we are not “D.O.A.” as many may think. We are having the time of our lives, and right now I don’t miss a thing about being young and what I enjoy most about being older is being alive to enjoy it!

Other than being a “hopeless romantic,” I think I’m just a regular guy. But my family, especially my sons David and Michael, because of the “Sunset Daze” experience, think I’m really something special. I’m happy.

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My name is Joanne. I am 63 years. young. I retired in 2001 as a real estate salesperson. I am married to Jim, Mr. CSI. Jim was a Lab Director for the Michigan State Police. My husband played golf in Scottsdale (once) and knew that he wanted to retire to AZ, so here we are! I guess truly the most important decision about moving here was that I have Multiple Sclerosis (diagnosed in my late 20s) and the “dry heat” was much better for me than the humidity.

Living in Sun City Grand offers us a large range of activities. There is something here for everyone. I love golf and there are many wonderful and challenging courses. From my golf, I have established an incredible group of friends. We meet most afternoons at 3:00 for a glass of wine and we do solve most of the problems of the world. Surprise, AZ. is “a gem within the mountains.”

Moving to Surprise has allowed me the ability to interact with people that are at the same stage in their lives and have chosen to enjoy an active lifestyle. It’s like high school or college, but without all the baggage of those time periods.

I currently belong to the Ladies Grand Niners, a league of women that prefer to play 9 holes of golf instead of the traditional 18. There are over 300 of us. Thursday I play again with a group of gals that like to play 18 holes, as well as, a Sunday golf group. I am also a member of the Blue Thong Society. Our chapter is very involved with a home for domestic violence victims. I guess I would describe myself as a very active women; I have always taken the position with my Multiple Sclerosis that if you don’t use it you lose it! My husband and I have owned two Harley Motorcycles. I would be the one riding on the back-not driving. What can I say… loved the clothes, disliked the riding part.

My children are very active. They love coming, not just to take in the sun, but we have done some skiing, hiking and touring AZ with them. When we first decided to move to Surprise, I called my children to let them know our plans. They asked in what area of AZ are you thinking. I said “Surprise” — I was trying to be funny; they didn’t laugh!

The word “senior citizen” means to me the beginning of a new phase in my life. I have raised my family and now it is the time for me to step back and reap the rewards. I also like the senior discounts! Being older gives me the wisdom to live my life smarter and the freedom to enjoy it as I choose. I have lived an action packed life in my 63yrs., for which I count my blessings. I would not want to redo any of my past years. I appreciate where I am now and am enjoying every moment of it! And I do buy green bananas!

I can not begin to tell you how thrilling it is working with WE tv on the upcoming series Sunset Daze. I have been just in awe as to what all goes into the making of this project. I have had the pleasure of meeting people, that without Sunset Daze, I would never have met. The degree of professionalism is unsurpassed.

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I’m Ron and retired. I decided to live in Surprise, AZ after choosing to look at Sun City Grand. Moving to Surprise has changed my perception of the aging process, there are so many thing to do especially for seniors. I live here with my wife, and we find it extremely peaceful, with easy access to the freeway! It’s a great place to live.

My wife and I are doing many things in Surprise, AZ that were not available in our previous hometown. Surprise is similar to high school in that we get to meet new friends and participate in group activities.

My wife and I have not joined any clubs yet, but we play a lot more golf since moving here. There’s nothing extraordinary about me; I try to enjoy each day I’m blessed with. The senior life style in Surprise, AZ is alive and well. Life at any age is what you choose to do. Age is only a number. The only thing I miss about being young is my health; it’s always changing with age. Now I have a lot more time though, and my schedule is my own. I have the option of chillin’ all day or not.

Our family is happy that we’ve retired. They love the AZ weather and like to visit us and just hang out. We miss them but they visit as often as possible. My wife and I are extremely happy with our children, family and friends. We are blessed to have a comfortable life style here in AZ. The Sunset Daze experience has given me the opportunity to share my story of being born into a racist environment, moving to another state at age 11, and being allowed to see and experience a better way of life. Sunset Daze has been a welcome extra added attraction to my life. What a blast…

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My name is Ann and I’m 61 years young. I am a former elementary school teacher with public and parochial teaching experience in Ireland, England, Belgium and Canada. I am now a happy housewife.

I had never lived in the U.S before and was looking for a place with a sense of community. We chose Surprise when we visited a friend and just fell in love with the place. The feedback from the people we met was so positive about social interaction and the facilities available to do just about anything we wanted to do.

My perception of the aging process since I moved here has become more positive. I now see the aging process as a time to revisit my dreams and make them happen.

I believe the number of experiences ahead of me may just be as many as I’ve had before coming to live here. I am very appreciative of the strong bond I have with my neighbors who are sharing the final trimester of life with me.

I am married to John, the love of my life.

The advantages of living in Surprise are many. Great friends. Great weather and at my age, sunrises are more important than sunsets. We are close to the city of Phoenix for the arts as well as the nation’s eight busiest airport. Surprise is located in a region great for visiting geological and manmade attractions in the SW of the United States. There are many opportunities to be creative and productive by joining the many clubs available. Surprise is a warm haven of opportunities and possibilities for retirees.

I have more time to spend with my husband, I have time to decorate and enjoy our beautiful home, I have more time to exercise and take care of my health, I have more time to be reflective on the meaning of life. I have more time to develop my interest in photography. I have more time to travel and in general I have more of everything.

I can compare Surprise, AZ, high school and college in two ways; how they are similar and how they are different.

All are academies of learning in their own way. People in Surprise have expertise in an amazing number of disciplines. This expertise is there for the asking. For single people this can be a return to the dating scene. Extra curricular activities provided in high school and college are duplicated in Surprise through clubs, sports and the adult learning classes.

A very important difference is that we are not influenced by peer pressure. Rather, we choose the people who embellish our lives. I am now mature enough to be in the moment, to live in the moment and recognize that it is my journey and not a journey to please anyone else.

I have learned a lot about photography, computers and relaxing. In the photo club, help is given to me on a one to one basis by other members . Field trips afford me the opportunity to travel and see the world with new eyes. Ongoing classes and competitions challenge me to new levels. I have learned new computer skills which have helped me to be creative with my photos. These activities help me to relax and enjoy the gift of giving through my photos.

My family members are all amazed at the active living in Surprise . They are astounded at how easily I have adjusted to living in the United States. Their initial reaction to hearing of my living in a retirement community was one of horror as they visualized me living with old people waiting to die. They visit on a yearly basis and are now encouraging their friends to spend time with us in the sun. I LOVE when they visit as it gives me so much bonding time with them to catch up and show them how happy I am here surrounded by wonderful neighbors.

I am a happy fulfilled housewife and I would like to dispel the misconception that life in Surprise is boring, and a waiting game for death. It is active, alive, healthy, full of opportunities, new adventures, rebirth and contentment.

What I miss the most about being young is full health and the energy of youth. What I enjoy most about being older is knowing who I am and having the time to enjoy my life without having to waste time on imaginary insecurities.

Through the “Sunset Daze” experience I have found a new confidence within myself. I have met new, interesting people who give the world of television to us. I appreciate their help negotiating me through this new experience in my life. They taught me the importance of accepting their advice as professionals in the industry so that I would look my best in front of the camera. I now know all about a “green screen” and I am much more particular about applying my make up!!!!!!

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