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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Save the last dance

    Pre-business freshman Bobby McCarthy, left, dances with 96-year-old Ruth Protas and pre-business freshman David Oberlander, right, dances with Beatriz Liebesman at the senior prom. The event was held at Atria Campana del Rio yesterday afternoon and organized by Pi Beta Phi and Delta Chi.
    Pre-business freshman Bobby McCarthy, left, dances with 96-year-old Ruth Protas and pre-business freshman David Oberlander, right, dances with Beatriz Liebesman at the ‘senior prom.’ The event was held at Atria Campana del Rio yesterday afternoon and organized by Pi Beta Phi and Delta Chi.

    Last night was senior prom.

    Not for high school seniors or college seniors about to graduate though, but for the senior citizens at a local assisted living center.

    Pi Beta Phi sorority put on the event, with help from the Delta Chi fraternity to bring some fun to the lives of the elderly at Atria Campana del Rio center.

    “”They get to re-live past memories and start new memories for now,”” said Deirdre Chandler, assistant executive director at the senior home.

    There was cake, finger foods, punch, decorations and live music from a keyboardist that played tunes that brought back found memories for residents.

    “”We’ve been dancing together for 71 years,”” said Art Engberg, who took his wife Virginia as his prom date.

    This wasn’t the couple’s first prom however; their first was in 1938 for Virginia’s senior year of high school.

    Although Virginia recently had hip replacement surgery it didn’t stop the couple from dancing to big band tunes played last night, some of the same songs the couple said they danced to at concerts by the original artists in the 1940s.

    “”This is the first time I’ve put on a long dress in 25 years,”” said resident Maxine Pilger, whose last prom was her senior year of high school in 1933. “”It’s quite an exciting celebration, I’ll say! This keeps us oldies going!””

    “”It’s wonderful. Prom has been a big part of our residents lives with their kids and grandkids, now it’s their turn again,”” said Frances Donnellan, executive director at the center. “”They’re so happy and lively.””

    “”We did a survey to help decide what we would do for philanthropy and working with the elderly was a popular idea,”” said Angie Stizza, a communication sophomore and vice president of member devolvement at Pi Beta Phi, who started the event last year. “”But we wanted to do more than just sit around and talk with them.””

    Members from Pi Beta Phi were there to dance and talk with the senior men and members of Delta Chi were on hand to dance and get punch for the senior women.

    Residents of the center chose a prom king and queen, as well as runner-up king and queen, from members of the sorority and fraternity.

    “”I love it,”” said Ruth Protas, 96, who asked a member of Delta Chi for a dance. “”I’d rather dance than eat. It’s good to have a partner.””

    After her dance, a member Pi Beta Phi went to assist Protas back to her chair, but Protas decided she wasn’t done dancing yet and began moving her helper’s hands in rhythm with the music, turning her helper into another dance partner.

    “”This is really cute,”” said Molly Hedges, a sociology sophomore and member of Pi Beta Phi. “”I hope people will do something like this for me when I’m older.””

    “”I’m having a blast,”” said Kate McGeorge, a nursing freshman, who’s grandmother, Marilyn McGeorge lives at the assisted living center and was attending the prom.

    “”I’m delighted,”” said Marilyn, who is also a member of the granddaughter’s sorority, Pi Beta Phi, in 1943. “”I’ve been looking forward to this for months. I can’t even remember my last prom.””

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