Marion County Senior Prom

Sandra Barton, dancing with her husband, Jim, was crowned queen of the Senior Prom Friday evening. She was crowned by Roman Prezioso, who coincidentally had been her escort to a Valentine’s Day dance at Monongah High School where Barton also reigned as queen.

Bud Porter answered his door Friday and found a delivery from Hauge’s: a yellow rose corsage for his wife, Bernadine, and a coordinating boutonniere for him.

Their son, Mike, who lives in Palm Springs, Calif., sent them after he learned his parents were going to the Senior Prom 2006, presented by Marion County Senior Citizens Inc.

Mike Porter called his dad last Sunday to wish him a happy Father’s Day and asked about upcoming plans.

“I said we were going to the Senior Prom,” Bud Porter recounted from Westchester Village, where the event took place Friday evening. “He said, ‘I thought you were too old.’ I said, ‘This is for old people.’”

Well, anyone who is 55 and older, anyway. Whether that is old or not is all in the mind, but many of the couples who attended the event, themed “A Night to Remember,” planned to jitterbug and fox trot the night away.

“We love to dance,” Bernadine Porter said. “We’re still able to do that, which is great. We’re very fortunate.”

Bernadine Porter did not want to give out her age, but she did note that she and her husband just celebrated their 60th anniversary in May. “So you can pretty much tell how old we are,” she said.

Friday’s event was the eighth annual one, said David Summers, the Aging and Disability Resource Center coordinator for Marion County Senior Citizens. About 80 tickets — which cost $30 for an individual and $50 for a couple — had been sold prior to the prom, and more tickets were sold at the door.

The prom was created initially to provide an activity opportunity for older people, and every measure was taken to make it seem like the proms attended in high school.

That meant having a prom queen, although she was not elected or even chosen. Tickets were given out at the door for a drawing that would determine who will wear the tiara and sash and carry a bouquet of roses.

“In previous years, we gave out wrapped flowers, and they were all pink carnations except for one red rose, and whoever had the rose was the prom queen,” Summer said. “But one year, they put in some red carnations and there was some confusion. Some people through they were the prom queen. So now we do the tickets.”

Many attendees appeared to have taken as much care in choosing their prom attire as a high school kid, with some men even donning tuxedos.

Robert Kozul looked dapper in a red bow tie with white polka dots, which he got from Vermont. “I have to special order them,” he said. “You don’t see them anymore.”

Prom couples even could pose for pictures, as did Jim and Sandra Barton. The couple just moved to Fairmont from New Jersey to be closer to Monongah native Sandra’s family.

The Bartons, like everyone else, had the opportunity to select which digital photo they wanted to take home as part of the prom package.

“We chose the one with the far away view so you can’t see my wrinkles,” Sandra Barton noted.

Later on in the evening, Barton hit the jackpot when she won the prom queen title. And, quite coincidentally, she was crowned by Roman Prezioso, who served as her escort to a Valentine’s Day dance at Monongah High School back in the 1960s. Barton also was queen of that dance as well.

Don and Linda Helmick were attending the Senior Prom for the first time, but it was not their first prom together. They attended Linda’s prom at Parsons High School in Tucker County when she was a senior in 1963. He had graduated a year earlier. She did not wear a corsage Friday but Don brought her one 43 years ago — yellow roses that matched her white dress that featured yellow rosebuds.

At that prom, students danced to records, but the Senior Prom featured a 10-piece big band, the Sunny Skies Orchestra, from the Washington, Pa., area, that played standards of the ’30, ’40s and ’50s such as “In the Mood” and “String of Pearls.”

Lenny Stafford attended with his wife, Katy, the activities coordinator of the North Marion Senior Citizens Center. Katy Stafford has accompanied her husband, the mayor of Mannington, to a few do’s in the day, and now Stafford has to follow suit.

“My life is nothing but functions,” he joked. “But this is fun. I see a lot of folks here I know. I’m glad to see it happening.”

E-mail Mary Wade Burnside at

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