On Your Health

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Reinventing the "Senior" Prom

couple at promInstead of limousines rented by the hour, they mostly came on group buses or specially outfitted vans, with church groups, community centers and friends from their retirement homes and assisted living facilities.

While many high school seniors dream of a rare curfew-free evening so they can dance the night away at their senior prom, this prom began at 1 p.m. on a weekday afternoon and concluded many hours before sunset, all the better for attendees to make it home in plenty of time for an early-bird dinner and reasonable bedtime.

These seniors have some life experience under their belts. And while they might not be young any more, they are young at heart. Which is why more than 700 senior citizens from the metro area relished the opportunity to don their finest getups and spend the afternoon cutting a rug at the 20th annual Young at Heart Senior Prom sponsored by the INTEGRIS Third Age Life Center, held last week at the Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Jim and Vicky Yates heard about the prom from their dance club. This was their first year to attend, and they were the talk of the prom with their sophisticated moves. They stayed on the dance floor for two solid hours, and really cut loose when the orchestra, a Norman-based, all-volunteer ballroom and swing band named Talk of the Town, launched into "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

good dancers at prom band at prom

The Young at Heart Senior Prom even picked a prom king and queen, selected from a random drawing. The winners received gift certificates to a local restaurant. Ernest Voigt was named prom king this year. Coincidentally, his wife Nina was the prom queen in 2009.

prom king Ernest Voigt

This year's prom queen was Maythel Bolden, 85, who has been coming to the prom for seven years. She attends with friends from her senior living community.

"I have fun every single year. I used to get up and dance the whole time but now my legs aren't so good. I still love to watch. Each year I call and call and call to make sure I get registered in time," she said.

queen of prom

The Oklahoma County sheriff's office was among those sponsoring the event, and deputies from the department as well as local police officers and firefighters came to dance with the single seniors.

"This is a good time. The ladies kept me dancing all afternoon," said Captain Gregory Bradford from the fire marshal's office.

firefighter at prom police at prom police at prom

Annabelle Wiedemann, 85, sat quietly in the corner observing the commotion on the dance floor. She came alone and said she'd attended the senior prom for the last three years. "I love watching the happy faces of people who haven't been out in awhile. I love seeing others enjoy themselves so much," she said.