Among the cobwebs, jack-o’-lanterns and spooky decorations at Friday’s Ascension Council on Aging Halloween party sat a table filled with photos of a man many called a fixture at the annual party for more than 15 years.
Photos of Harry Clifton “Clif” Nickens sat atop a small table next to the registration area in the Gonzales Senior Center. Costumed partygoers stopped to reminiscence about Nickens’ music and charm.
Nickens, who died Oct. 4 at 68, was scheduled to perform at the party.
Nanette Daigle, a COA employee, said she talked to Nickens just a few days before his death to confirm his gig.
“You could always count on Clif,” Daigle said. “The folks loved him and looked forward to his music at just about everything we did.”
COA Executive Director Darlene Schexnayder said Nickens “will be hard to replace.”
“We miss him today, and we’re going to miss him for a long time,” she said.
Schexnayder said that while the seniors loved his music, they also admired his sense of humor.
“He didn’t take himself too seriously,” Schexnayder said. “He joked and teased. And he always sang ‘Darlene’ to me at every party.”
Des Allemands musician Frenchie Berard played music for Friday’s party.
Schexnayder said Nickens had recommended his friend Berard several years ago when Nickens couldn’t make a performance.
“It will take us a while to replace Clif, and we really will never be able to replace him,” Schexnayder said.
After a break in the dancing and music, the seniors gathered on the dance floor for a costume contest.
Witches, a penguin, Santa Claus, Julius Caesar, a doctor and a bee were among the costumes parading for the judges.
Patricia Mayers won first place in the most original category, with Savanah Richardson, Paul Trabeau and Lucille Taylor also picking up prizes.
Shirley Stelly won the prettiest category, with Evelyn Logwood in second place, and Lucille Blair, third.
Bubba Corkerham won first place in the funniest division. Betty Bethel, Barbara Ghirardi and Cleatta Johnson also were winners in the division.
Mary Chauff’s witch costume was judged the scariest, with Deborah Danielson, Dorothy Cooper and Mary Franklin also winning in the category.