‘It just made me feel so good’: Senior prom a success

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

HELENA – Seniors were among the most vulnerable during the height of the pandemic. This forced many older Americans to be shut inside and miss out on recreation and socialization they often look forward to during a normal year.

To address this, a senior prom was held at Helena Hollow on Friday, June 25, where those ages 55 and older had an opportunity to once again be out and about enjoying the company of others.

A small crowd of seniors had the chance to dance along with their loved ones and spend the night having fun with their friends.

ExpectCare, a senior care service, organized the event with that goal in mind, according to Community Educator Lance Lee.

“I think that they really loved it,” Lee said. “They were all smiles. People who wanted to dance got out and had the time of their lives. Some people just wanted to be present and socialize too. They got to enjoy spending time with some of the teenagers who volunteered their time to be there, and they spent time getting to know each other.”

One of the highlights of the event was announcing the winner of prom king and queen. Patricia Bradberry was chosen by her peers to be the queen, an honor that made her feel very special.

“It just made me feel so good,” Bradberry said. “I was so surprised and just proud to wear the crown and the sash they gave me. I never noticed a pin so gorgeous on a banner like the one they gave me. They nominated several of the ladies that were there and did the voting by applause. It was very sweet to win that way.”

Bradberry said she had not been able to get out and do a lot over the past year, so this event carried the extra significance of spending time with others and dancing instead of worrying about the pandemic.

“The whole thing was wonderful and set up so nice,” Bradberry said. “They had beautiful flowers for the gentlemen that were there and corsage wristbands for the ladies. They had roses that were beautiful that they gave to us. There was so much good food and a lot people that were very friendly and made me feel very special. It was a wonderful time.”

Mike Carroll, another guest at the event, said he often frequents senior activities when they are available. Unfortunately, he said they tend to lack the thrill he is looking for; however, this dance was different for him.

“I have been to other senior proms of that nature and it would be boring as everything,” Carroll lamented. “I went into this one with that same thing in mind. But actually, I really enjoyed myself.”

One of the biggest motivators for Carroll was the choice of music for the dance.

“They played music from back in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. That was back in my prime time,” he recalled. “They even played a song that I remembered dancing to in the sixth or seventh grade.”

He was referring to the 1960s Chubby Checker classic “The Twist.”

“I was the king of the twist. When they played that song, I got out there and did the twist,” Carroll said. “It was great. The whole dance was excellent and enjoyable for me.”

Socialization and human connection is very important for people in general, but especially for seniors. Creating safe and fun activities for them is more important than ever.

Lee said the organization plans to make this an annual community event to keep providing this kind of outing.