ELIZABETHTOWN — Proving the old adage “You’re never too old to have fun,” senior citizens from around Bladen County gathered in Elizabethtown for the biennial Senior Prom hosted by the Bladen County Division on Aging.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Joan Allen, director of the Division on Aging. “They love it, and we get to see a side of them that normally we don’t get to see.”
On Tuesday afternoon, around 100 seniors and Division on Aging employees, dressed in their best, arrived via car, BARTS transportation, or on foot at the Senior Center.
Music pumped, strobe lights filled the room, and a few chest-high cocktail tables sat on the edge of the dance area, but the room was mostly lined with rows of chairs for sitting. Guests, however, didn’t waste much time sitting.
“We’re all old, and we don’t know how much time we have left, so we might as well have fun while we’re here,” reasoned Virginia Burch as she stood in the food line dancing to the music and talking. When someone cut in line in front of her and she was forced back toward the room where the dancing was going on, she stepped back and continued to move, laughing and saying, “It’s OK; it just gets me closer to the music.”
Burch went on to lead a group of about 20 in what the DJ called a “Southern version of the Electric Slide,” to which beat he chanted, “Go seniors, go seniors, it’s your prom, go seniors.” Later on, Burch was fanned off by a laughing employee, who must have thought that Burch’s hip gyrations were getting too hot. Even 98-year old Lily Melvin took a turn on the floor and, afterwards, commented that, though she doesn’t do too much dancing, she had fun.
While one might expect the music to be slow and the dancing minimal, quite the opposite was true. Dozens of guests energetically participated in dances such as the Cuban Shuffle and the Electric Slide, some of the ladies hiking up their floor-length dresses to free their feet to move and many of them showing that age hadn’t affected their groove.
Finger foods were provided by Front Porch Catering Services, and and photographer was present to take traditional prom photos, which would be mailed to guests, for $1.
“It’s been 50 years since I attended a prom,” said Regina Corbett.
For some, though, the experience was a first.
“I didn’t go when I was younger, so this is my first time,” said 68-year old Shirley McKoy. “It’s exactly like I thought it would be.”
As is the custom at many proms, a king and queen were crowned for the day, the king receiving a stately crown and the queen receiving a sparkling tiara. Rather than being chosen by vote, the duo were selected by random drawing, and the honors for the day went to Ramond Batten and 58-year old Barbara Lacewell of Clarkton, who glided with open arms to the front to be crowned and offered a princess wave before posing for pictures with her king. Despite encouragement, the couple declined to dance.
“This is good for everybody,” said Corbett after her turn on the floor. “They need things like this to keep them young. Just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you have to stop living.”
The Division on Aging is currently looking for volunteers to help staff events such as the prom and parties, as well as interact daily with this young-at-heart group. Interested persons may contact Carol Mitchell at 872-6331.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.