Harrington: Senior Perks

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Every new year offers a fresh start – but it also reminds us all that
another birthday is coming. Commentator Elaine Harrington looks at the
perks of aging in Vermont.

(Harrington) The population of
Montpelier – and of Vermont – is rapidly aging. According to the U.S.
Census, in 2010, about 15 percent of Vermonters were 65 and over. By
2030, that number will be 25 percent. Only Maine has a higher percentage
of seniors. We are indeed growing older.

At my local co-op
there’s a special parking space with a sign that says, "Reserved for
Customers over Age 65." One ice-climbing friend who just turned 65
insists that he will never park there.

But I know that others
will make good use of the parking perk – and that’s gotten me thinking
about other privileges or deals that are out there for Vermont seniors.

Vermont State Parks come out on top with the Green Mountain Passport.
It allows Vermont residents unlimited day access to the parks and begins
at age 62. Plus, it’s on sale at your town clerk’s office for an
unbelievable $2.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has a
big bonus for Vermonters at 65 – a combination fishing and hunting
license for $36. And it’s permanent.

I first heard about free
passes for older skiers when I was a teenager – and most areas do offer
discounts after age 65. But Smuggler’s Notch really does have almost
free skiing at 70 when a season’s pass goes for just $20.

River Glenn offers the Legend Pass for skiers 70 and over, if you can,
and a season’s pass for Nordic skiing at Trapps’ in Stowe is seriously
discounted at age 65.

If you like cultural attractions  discount
for seniors include The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St.
Johnsbury, the Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, and the Shelburne
Farms building tour.

If you’re thinking of going back to school
when you retire, UVM offers Vermont residents free tuition in courses
for credit or audit at age 65 – on a space available basis. The Vermont
State College system, including CCV, offers two free classes per
semester to senior residents, though course and comprehensive fees may
apply both here and at UVM.

Surprisingly, the arts don’t seem to
make many allowances for seniors, but the movies offer some deals. The
Majestic 10 Theater in Williston offers discounted tickets once you turn

Travelling on the CCTA bus system offers half-price monthly
passes to seniors for trips within Chittenden County. Some food
suppliers, like Natural Provisions in Williston and City Market in
Burlington, also offer modest senior discounts.

Of course, it’s
possible that as older Vermonters become more numerous, we could find
that the perks are up-aged – just as many expect will happen to the
Social Security threshold.

But at least for now, there are quite
a few benefits that come with reaching a certain age in Vermont. And
those of us who have them might as well enjoy them – while the rest of
us contemplate birthdays in the years ahead – and reaching the senior
status that unlocks these opportunities.

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