Senior citizens take the spotlight
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent May 29, 2012 1:10PM
Senior citizens take the dance floor during the annual Senior Prom at the Hammond (Ind.) Civic Center on May 16, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~For Sun-Times Media
AT A GLANCE
For more information about programs at the Hammond Civic Center, call (219) 853-6378.
Area senior citizens recently donned formal attire, enjoyed a catered dinner and danced to live music during the 13th annual Senior Prom at the Hammond Civic Center.
“This gives our seniors a chance to get out and have some fun,” said Michelle Turchany, the city of Hammond’s special events coordinator, “and possibly to revisit their proms from years ago.”
Donated door prizes ranged from candle gift sets to theater tickets and a portable CD player.
“I love that there’s more than just food; many senior events don’t have anything much more than that,” said Marian Franklin of Merrillville. “We oldsters still like winning prizes and kicking up our heels with good music.”
That good music was played by the Dick Elliot Band, a three-piece ensemble. The group is one of the regular bands that entertains seniors at the weekly ballroom dancing sessions at the Civic Center.
In fact, many of those who attended the Senior Prom also are part of the ballroom dancing group.
“We’re here every Wednesday afternoon, so this (Senior Prom) was an extra treat,” said Del Scheidler of Schererville. “It’s wonderful that they have this for us.”
The ballroom dancing sessions were introduced in the late 1980s and have sustained good attendance throughout the years.
After finishing his dinner, Joseph Smith was eyeing the door-prize table.
“I sure could use that security alarm” he laughed, commenting that everyone likes to win prizes. “And my wife would really enjoy those theater tickets.”
Highland resident Janet Stapac was seated with Sandy and Tom Suchala of Hammond, friends with whom she socializes at the weekly ballroom dancing sessions.
Stapac was a Senior Prom first-timer, urged to attend by the Suchalas.
“This is lovely; it’s nice to get dressed up and listen to the music,” she said. “I’ve only been taking ballroom dancing for six months, but I really enjoy it.”
The Suchalas said Hammond is keeping on top of what area seniors want and need.
“It’s good to reinvest in your senior citizens,” Sandy said. “An event like this Senior Prom tells the community that the city cares about them.”
Her tablemate, John Stewart of Lansing, Ill., agreed.
“I’ve been coming to the Senior Prom for four years, and it’s always a good time,” Stewart said. “I’m always meeting new people.”
Many residents look forward to the prom, as it is a unique event, said Sue Carroll, building manager at the Civic Center.
“It great to see so many of our seniors having fun,” she said while checking the buffet table. “We’re happy to offer this for them.”
As with any prom, a king and queen for the day were chosen. This year’s honors went to wife and husband Pauline and Jack Landers of Crown Point.