Balloons in pink, lime and lemon hues were strung across the ceiling at the Senior Center in Gonzales for the seventh annual Senior Prom, hosted by the Council on Aging.
There was music, food and dancing throughout the afternoon as residents 60 and older came together for fun and fellowship. Volunteers from the East Ascension Rotary Club, Dutchtown High School Interact Club and the Council on Aging hosted the soirée for the senior citizens of Ascension Parish.
Last year, the event was held at the Gonzales Civic Center, where East Ascension High School had hosted its own prom the night before and lent the use of its decorations and crowns to the Council on Aging for its event, said Darlene Schexnayder, the director for the Council on Aging. Each year, the prom theme from the high school is used for the Senior Prom as well. Last year’s theme was “Mystical Masquerade.”
“However, this year, the mayor wanted to use the Civic Center as a backup for Music in the Park, in case it started to rain,” Schexnayder said. So, the Senior Prom was held at the Gonzales Senior Center down the street instead. The décor was put together by the sponsors of the event.
“This year’s theme is ‘Springtime.’ East Ascension still provided the crown and so forth for the event,” Schexnayder said.
Along with the labor provided by the Dutchtown High Interact Club, sponsors worked all day Friday and Saturday morning, Schexnayder said.
Residents like Mary Tyler appreciated all the effort.
“It’s nice — the cake, the food, the dancing! The food was delicious,” said Tyler, of Donaldsonville.
For some attendees, the Senior Prom was their first prom to ever attend, including this year’s prom king, Erin Tyler, of Donaldsonville.
“I’m shocked,” Erin Tyler said after being awarded his title. Both Erin Tyler and his wife, Mary Tyler, plan to come again.
Prom queen Mary Chauff was delighted at her coronation.
“In 2000, I was Principal of the Year in the state of Louisiana. That’s the closest I’ve been to royalty. Seventy years ago, I was just a part of the crowd. Two years from now, I will have graduated from high school 70 years ago,” Chauff said.
For many, including those who did not complete high school or did not have the ability to attend a prom, the Senior Prom offers a second chance.
“We couldn’t have a prom when I was in high school, because the school property was donated from a very religious organization,” Chauff said. “It’s such an honor to be queen.”
The importance of the Senior Prom for many people — all from various backgrounds and ethnicities — was to make new friends and meet old ones. “I’m here for the camaraderie and because a very nice young lady I know told me about it,” said Jane Domengeaux, of Walker, who once owned a pub called the Gin Meal in Sorrento. “I never went to my high school prom. So, this is my first.”
This year, about 70 people, mostly from Gonzales and Donaldsonville, attended the prom.
Sedonia Irvin brought her 90-year-old mother, Ellen Willis, to the prom. “It’s nice for the old folks. It gives them something to look forward to,” Irvin said.
“I used to come every year, but my legs haven’t been so good. It’s nice to come and see all the old people,” Willis said.
“I just love to watch people dance,” Domengeaux said.