A dance to remember: Local center holds annual prom for senior citizens

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 29, 2015

QUEEN CORONATION: Onita Mitchell was crowned queen during the senior prom.

QUEEN CORONATION: Onita Mitchell was crowned queen during the senior prom. Photo by Ashley Collins.

Prom is a rite of passage for many teenagers, who prepare months in advance for the celebratory dance that signals the end of their high school career and the beginning of adulthood.

Senior citizens in Pearl River County were able to rewind time and dance the day away at the Senior Center of South Pearl River County’s annual senior prom.

About 110 senior citizens attended the prom in their finest eveningwear this past Tuesday, said Darlene Adams, the center’s executive director.

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The dance was sponsored by numerous local vendors and healthcare organizations, which provided food, volunteers and prizes that were raffled off during the dance.

Adams said she was appreciative of the community’s support.

“These events don’t just happen, it takes a community and we are so blessed to have business leaders and home health organizations supporting us, as well as our employees working hard here at the center to keep it running,” Adams said.

Geri and Luke Lisotta were one of the many couples twirling across the dance floor on Tuesday. The Lisotta’s are regulars at the center and not shy when it comes to dancing. Geri said they’ve been dancing longer than they’ve been married.

“We’ve been married for 58 years and dancing for 59 years. We love coming here to the center to sing, dance and play cards and we’ve met great friends here,” Geri said.

Marie Davis was accompanied by her husband of 60 years, Fred. She said the prom “makes me feel like I’m 18 again.”

Prom has deep roots in American culture. The word prom is actually short for promenade, according to a TIME article and its beginnings can be traced back to the co-ed banquets held at American universities during the 19th century. Since then, the prom has grown into what it’s known today, an annual dance that celebrates a high school’s graduating class.

In true prom fashion, the center crowned its king and queen in between dances accompanied by live music.

The queen was 92-year-old Onita Mitchell and her king was Ray Simmons. They were crowned and sceptered by Ted Musgrove, vice president of the center’s board of directors.

The king and queen were chosen through a drawing that included the names of seniors more than 85 years of age.

Simmons was accompanied by his wife of 56 years, Carolyn.

Mitchell, a resident at Timeless Grace Retirement and Assisted Living, said she was thrilled when her name was called, declaring her the prom’s queen.

“I didn’t expect it,” Mitchell said.

Several residents from the assisted living facility, as well as other home health facilities, attended the prom.

Becky Welch, owner of Timeless Grace, beamed at the sight of her residents having a good time.

“We like all our residents to get the best quality of life and go out and have fun. To see the smile on Onita’s face when she was chosen as queen was really awesome,” Welch said.

Adams hopes this prom will be one everyone will remember.

“It overwhelms me that we have a center where we can offer these activities, like the prom, to our seniors in the community,” Adams said.

Seniors can look forward to donning their finest prom apparel and relieving their youth once again during next year’s senior prom.


DANCE To Impress: Couples expertly twirl around the dance floor during the senior prom.

DANCE To Impress: Couples expertly twirl around the dance floor during the senior prom. Photo by Ashley Collins.