Seniors citizens in Hancock County on Wednesday danced through the decades at the 6th annual Hancock County Senior Citizens Prom.
This year, more than 330 seniors attended the "event of the year," Hancock County Senior Center Director Arlene Johnson said.
"As they walked in, they brightened up," she said. "They looked around, sat with friends they hadn't seen in a while and just had an awesome time. It made them feel special."
This year's theme was "Dancing through the Decades," from the 1920s through the 1990s.
The dance is sponsored by the Hancock County Senior Prom Committee and the SALT TRIAD Committee with the Hancock County Sheriff's Office, Johnson said.
This year's prom committee members included: Johnson, Linda Pitts, Barbara and Bob Huett, Jim Thriffley, Leann Newman, Jamie Woods, and Amy Ivey, Johnson said. Barbara Huett also painted the back drop which hung on the stage.
The food was provided by SALT TRIAD Council and the prom committee. Doug Peterson and Andrew Johnson with the Hancock County Sheriff's Office helped set up and clean up after the prom and helped cook the food.
Tim Jones, LMSW of Praetorian Health Services served as emcee. Bay High School ROTC students presented the colors. Holy Trinity Catholic School's Leadership Ambassadors (5th and 6th graders) volunteered and distributed goody bags to seniors.
St. Stanislaus' Class of 2020 Leadership and Service Group volunteered during the dance. The students served food and also interacted with seniors.
11th grader Jackson Thriffley said it's good for the old and young to get together.
"It makes them feel young again," he said. "They can teach us stuff about life and what not to do and what to do."
Dawson Strong said the SSC Leadership and Service Group participates in a number of volunteer activities.
"Volunteering is one of my main priorities," Strong said. "It's good for them (seniors) to get away and have a good time."
Brad Dossett said he introduced himself to several seniors.
"It's fun for them to get out because some of them live in homes," he said. "I made sure they had a good time. They can also teach us a bunch of things and we can bring a smile to their face."
Jan Rutherford of Diamondhead said she visits the Hancock County Senior Center three days a week.
"We love our driver Cesar," she said. "He helps everybody and takes us shopping. The prom is nice and it's nice to be able to do stuff like this."
Pat Robertson, who was also named the 2018 Hancock County Senior Citizen Prom Queen, said she is accustomed to serving as queen as a result of her past involvement in Mardi Gras krewes. This was also her first year attending the prom.
"It's very nice," she said. "It's good to bring the people together."
It was also Diana and Buddy Seal's first visit to the prom.
"I think it's wonderful," Diana said.
Buddy agreed and said, "it's a great thing to get together."
This year's king and queen were Elijah Gillum and Robertson, respectively.
Woodland Village won the prize for best table decoration.
Johnson also recognized her senior center staff members Michael Robertson, Jimmy Rouse, James Bordelon, Mel Raboteau and Cesar Mogollon for their work with the prom.
"They are wonderful, dedicated and kind," she said.
Johnson said that senior citizens are Hancock County's most prized assets.
"Our seniors have given so much to our community,'' she said. "To have a few hours away from the nursing home and house makes it special. For businesses to contribute makes it so nice."
This year's prom sponsors included: Seniors BlueBook, Southern Hearts Hospice, Hancock County Senior Center, SentryRehab, SALT/TRIAD of the Hancock County Sheriff's Office, The First Bank, Southgroup Insurance Services, Kare-In-Home, Adams Loraine Flowers, Ochsner, Claiborne Hill, St. Joseph Hospice, Dunbar Village, Royal American Management, Hurley and Associates, Woodland Village Nursing Center, Chad and Jill Barnett, State Farm-Mike Meyers, Mary Pyles, Kindred Hospice, Froogel's, Bay-Waveland Floral, Hancock County Human Resource Agency, Walmart, Humana, Edmond Fahey Funeral Home, The French Potager, Rosemary Dumoulin, Alan and Natalie Hodges, Notre Dame Hospice, Amada Senior Care, Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, Hollywood Casino, Bay-Waveland Garden Club, Keesler Federal Credit Union, Edward Jones-Craig Foster, Huets/Talbot, Distinctive Florist of Slidell, Midtown Pharmacy, and Dinky's Towing.
In addition to the prom, the Senior Center also offers daily classes in ceramics, crafts, quilting, and oil painting.
Seniors unable to drive to the center can participate in the center's transportation program. Drivers pick up seniors Monday through Friday in Bay St. Louis, and Waveland; Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Pearlington and areas north of I-10 such as Diamondhead, Catahoula and Kiln.
Drivers also take seniors to run errands, shop for groceries, pay bills, and attend medical appointments. Seniors are also served breakfast and lunch at the center. The only criteria to participate is that people be at least 60 years old and live in Hancock County, Johnson said.
The Hancock County Senior Citizens Center is located at 601 Bookter St. in Bay St. Louis. For more information about programs, contact staff at 228-467-9292.