THE BLOG
08/28/2013 06:56 am ET Updated Oct 28, 2013

New Trend: Senior Citizen Proms

If you're over the age of 65, you may have another chance at being crowned Prom King or Queen. High schools and community centers all across America have adopted this new trend of Senior Citizen Proms and the response has been overwhelming.

Over 160 people attended the 6th Annual Senior Citizen Prom in New Milford, New Jersey, which has become something of a town tradition. Organized mostly by students involved in the Tri-M Music and Art Honors Society, the "Hooray for Hollywood"-themed event boasted over 75 door prizes that were won throughout the night as well as beautiful donated decorations.

"The very first year we crowned the king and queen, the queen was wheelchair bound," said Jane Swarctz, advisor for the Tri-M Music and Art Society. "When it was announced that she won, two boys from the Tri-M wheeled her onto the dance floor and danced with her -- one holding her hands and the other swaying the wheelchair as the Choral Ensemble sang. Our newly crowned Queen was gleaming and there was not a dry eye in the room."

Memories like that make it easy to see why this has become a yearly event in New Milford. Closing the generation gap through an evening of socializing, the student volunteers play a large role in making the evening enjoyable for prom goers. The students chip in by serving water, cleaning tables, assisting those with limited mobility and even convincing a few seniors to dance.

Similarly, in Forsyth County, Georgia, the first-ever Senior Citizen Prom was planned and hosted by Sarah Bock, a sophomore at South Forsyth High School, as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Bock recruited other volunteers to help find local businesses that would sponsor the prom, which was themed "A Night in Paris." Bock's motivation for throwing a party for 130 people was to raise awareness among her peers about some of the challenges that the elderly face on a daily basis.

The Center for Senior Living in Beachwood, Ohio also recently celebrated their 8th Annual Senior Citizen Prom, where a roomful of balloons honored the evening's "Up, Up, And Away" theme and tiny hot air balloons adorned the tops of cupcakes baked by volunteers. A DJ played music that kept the crowd moving and allowed them to reminisce about the past.

"I had a lovely time. It brings me back when I used to go out dancing," said Pamela McIlwaine of Bedford Heights.

Following the recent repeal of DOMA in California, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center just threw a senior citizen prom for same-sex couples. Many of the people who showed up to eat, dance, and socialize had never had the opportunity to experience prom in their youth.

"Many, especially older people like myself, gay and lesbian bi, and so on, may have found their senior prom a problem in one way or another," said Robert Clement, a Clergyman. "Feeling either left out, or that it didn't really relate to them. Proms are part of a rite of passage and they are a heterosexual thing. It's an awkward time, an awkward thing in life and, today, it's not awkward."

Whether gay or straight, senior citizen proms have proven to be a positive trend that's here to stay.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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