A full house at Senior-Senior prom

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Spring was in the air and in the steps of the attendees at the 2018 Senior-Senior Prom hosted by the Crisis Center of Wilson, the Wilson Family YMCA and Fike High School.

The sixth annual event held earlier this month was attended by more than 470 senior citizens and approximately 100 student volunteers, said Kathie Davis, executive director of the Wilson Family YMCA.

Anyone over 65 years of age was eligible to attend. Each senior was escorted by a student down a hallway lined with bright paper lanterns and lighted ornamental trees with spring-colored butterflies and into the Fike cafeteria that was transformed into a dance floor, bandstand and a sit-down dinner location for a meal from Parker’s Barbecue. Each guest was given a packet of flower seeds.

For the sixth straight year, Bill Myers and The Monitors provided music for the event, playing everything from up-tempo line dance tunes to slow dance classics.

“This event means so much to the seniors,” said attendee Shirley Powell. “Some are able to dance; some are not. But even the seniors who are not able to dance enjoy themselves anyway. This gives them an outing, a good meal to go along with it, and something to talk about for the next month or so. It gives them a chance to dress up, something they haven’t done for a while, especially those who may just go to church.”

Volunteer Emely Dominquez, an eighth-grader at Forest Hills Middle School and president of the school’s Beta Club, experienced the Senior-Senior Prom for the first time.

“I did not realize this event was going to be this big, but it’s been fun helping out everybody, and I love helping people,” said Emely. “We (the Beta Club) were told that we were going to be helping at a senior citizens’ dance, and I was so happy because I love helping older people.”

Her favorite part of the evening was watching the seniors dance.

“It just warms my heart,” she said. “This is just a great experience. And it’s fun.”

Nancy Sallenger, Crisis Center executive director, envisioned this prom more than six years ago and has seen it grow every year.

“I have had so many people say they can’t wait until next year’s prom and to please go ahead and put them down for next year,” said Sallenger. “I’ve already got over 150 signed up for the 2019 prom.”

Sallenger said the prom is not only about giving seniors something to do, but getting the generations to interact.

“The seniors are connecting with the teens who escort them in, and they interact throughout the evening,” Sallenger said. “Most importantly, they are making friendships.”

“It was a beautiful, beautiful evening,” Sallenger continued. “I think it’s important, no matter what age, that this was their special evening. The smiles and hugs are worth a million dollars.”

The 2018 Senior-Senior Prom was sponsored by Parker’s Barbecue, Greater Wilson Rotary Club, Wilson Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Wilson, Fike High School, the Allen family, Sutton Sallenger, Gilda and Clayton Tucker, Colleen’s Culinary Creations and Kristin and Chris Gay. The City of Wilson Parks and Recreation Department provided tables and chairs for the event.