It was a senior prom night like any other with dinner, dancing and dates dressed to the nines Saturday. The prom queen and king were announced and took the first dance.
Then the band leader recalled the 1950s and couples swayed to “In the Still of the Night.”
At Rock Hill’s Park Pointe Village, this senior prom was for residents of the retirement community, courtesy of Northwestern High School senior Mason Jones.
The 18-year-old has served in the dining hall at Park Pointe for three years. She also served on her school’s prom committee. She said there’s a tradition where servers come before prom dressed to show the community residents.
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“I noticed how much the residents loved it,” she said, “so I thought they’d love a prom themselves.”
About a dozen high school seniors – from Rock Hill, Clover and York high schools – and the community staff spent a couple of months planning to include all the glitz and glamor prom night memories are made from.
“The decorations are beautiful, the music is good and it’s fun to dress up,” said Trisha Bickenbach, who was there with her prom date and husband retired Lt. Col. Jerry Bickenbach.
The Bickenbachs married in 2013, a couple of years after meeting at the community.
“I appreciate this more than high school,” she said of Saturday night’s prom. “This is wonderful at this age to enjoy again.”
The night even gave couples, like Helen and Bill Issel, married 54 years, anew.
“We didn’t go to prom together,” said Helen Issel. “We had a great time.”
Jones recycled the school’s prom decorations for a 1920s “Great Gatsby”-inspired theme.
“Everybody has done a great job. The staff did a really great job of preparing everything,” said Jim Hayes, on a break from taking a spin on the dance floor with his bride Hilda of 50 years.
Several residents and Andrea Powell, life engagement coordinator at Park Pointe, said they hope it becomes an annual event.
“The residents are really enjoying the event, and have been talking about it for weeks, getting their tables together, deciding what to wear, several went out and bought prom dresses just for tonight,” Powell said.
Lisa Sileo, communications manager for Acts Retirement-Life Communities that has 22 nonprofits on the East Coast including Park Pointe, said “it’s pretty extraordinary to have student” initiate such an event. But not surprising given residents support students, too, attending school activities such as theater productions and sports events.
“They’ve developed a relationship with them,” Sileo said. “They’re like their grandparents. Students get a great mentor, and residents get grandchildren.”
Jones said here mission was to bring back good memories and make knew ones.
“I hope they feel young again, and it reminds them of their dances and music,” she said.
As a group of prom dates joked around and called themselves “Opals” – old people with active lifestyles.
“Maybe we’ll even stay awake past 7:30,” joked Hilda Hayes, heading back out to dance.
Catherine Muccigrosso: 803-329-4069