Embracing another New Year

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

If you’ve been looking for the best New Year’s Eve party in Pelham and haven’t found it, perhaps you’re just not old enough.

Pelham’s Senior Center hosts an annual New Year’s Eve Dance that is the culmination of a year long slate of meaningful activities for the city’s older citizens.

Although the senior center officially opened in May 2005, Pelham’s seniors began having weekly meetings at the library about 15 years ago. Having a center of their own has certainly increased activities. In fact, the calendar for the senior center is enviable with activities and classes including digital photography, tai chi, mah jongg and two levels of line dancing instruction.

Each New Year’s Eve, the seniors show off their dancing skills to the tunes of Ray Newman and his one man band. Ray has a synthesizer that creates a big band sound as he plays a wide variety of music on his keyboard. Music selections are varied, ranging from big band swing and ballroom dancing to country western songs to make all of those line dancing classes pay off.

Very active within the Pelham senior dancing community are husband and wife, Dick Paxton and Gloria Hudson. When I asked Hudson if she danced for exercise, she responded, “Oh, they have exercise classes at the senior center, but we don’t go to those. We dance about four times a week and we figure that’s about enough.”

Paxton explained the dances held at the senior center. A line dance is held the third Friday night of each month and admission is $4 per person.

“The New Year’s Eve Dance – that’s our big event,” said Paxton. “It runs from 8 p.m. until midnight. We have plenty of snacks, sodas and coffee, and then around 11, we also have breakfast foods. We welcome in the New Year at midnight, and then we go home. We have a lot of fun.”

Activities director Regina Jimenez said the cost of the New Year’s Eve Dance is $15 and pre-registration is required. Events are open to Shelby County seniors who are 55 and up.

“I’ve been dancing all of my life,” Hudson said. “My husband hasn’t done as much dancing as me, but he’s catchin’ up.”

Both husband and wife revealed to me that their favorite style of dance is the waltz. Paxton said, “I love the waltz. I love the easy flow of the dance.”

Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.”

At the Pelham Senior Center, area seniors have a chance to celebrate that beautiful life as they waltz into another New Year.