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The City Journals

Sweethearts Ball: Giving Seniors a Reason to Dance

Apr 08, 2016 10:21AM ● By Jessica Thompson

By Jessica Thompson | [email protected]

Taylorsville - Pink and red paper hearts hung from the ceiling, an Elvis impersonator sang classic love songs and the delicious smell of orange chicken filled the gymnasium of the Taylorsville Senior Center. It’s that time of year again for couples and friends to get together for the seniors’ Sweethearts Ball. The center offered seniors a chance to have a fun and affordable evening out by providing Chinese food from a local restaurant and music they could dance to.

“It’s important for seniors to get together and socialize with others, enjoy music and have a good meal. When there are special holidays during the month, we like to have our evening at the centers themed around those holidays to make it extra fun and special,” Kelly Sullivan, organizer of the Sweethearts Ball, said.

Kent Palmar and Andrea Neilson have been dating for two years, and they love to dance together.

“We love to dance, and my boyfriend is so clever at making up new dance moves. We love when people get up and dance with us,” Neilson said. 

Palmar and Neilson would take one bite of food and then quickly be up to dance the next song in each other’s arms. This couple loves to be entertained, but even more, they love to entertain. Throughout the years, they have found themselves at a lot of events at different senior centers. 

“The Taylorsville center is the friendliest center I’ve ever been to,” Palmar said.

At this Sweethearts Ball they were joined by many other couples on the dance floor. 

“It’s heartwarming to see people coming together to have a good time, because none of us dance like we used to,” Sullivan said. 

Throughout the night there was a friendly hum of conversation between couples and friends around the decorated tables. Not everyone danced that night, but everyone did enjoy the company they were surrounded with at the Sweethearts Ball. Beverley was one of those who enjoyed sitting at a table full of her friends laughing together.

“It’s nice to have events to entertain us old folks. Plus, we get to meet a lot of people, and all our friends are here,” she said.

Many seniors are grateful for the opportunity the Taylorsville Senior Center gives them to participate in different kinds of activities. Carrie Ann lives in the apartments just across the street from the center and was glad to be at the Sweethearts Ball. 

“Some of us are not married and some of us can’t go out for nice food like the kind they have provided for us tonight. I’m grateful I can come to this event to get out and have a good time. This event helps us to experience a life we might not have otherwise. The center gives us the chance to have a better quality of life as we grow and learn from the school of life,” she said. 

Over the years Sullivan has seen how important it is for seniors to come together.  

“The center gives seniors something to do. Other than their religious groups they may be a part of, they really don’t have a whole lot of activities after they retire. Activities at the center go at our own pace. There is enough rushing around in life that it’s nice to have a place to come and enjoy activities and groups that share our same interests,” he said.