Winter Park seniors bond and turn back the clock at Senior Prom

The Oh What a Night Senior Prom at the Winter Park Community Center gave seniors a chance to dance with local police officers and firefighters.

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  • | 8:40 a.m. April 27, 2018
Lieutenant Stan Locke, of the Winter Park Police Department, shared the dance floor with Victoria Andalucia.
Lieutenant Stan Locke, of the Winter Park Police Department, shared the dance floor with Victoria Andalucia.
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Beautiful dresses and sharp suits. Friends and couples on an open dance floor. It’s prom season for local high schools, but this isn’t your typical senior prom.

Winter Park gave its senior citizens a night to remember at the Oh What a Night Senior Prom Friday, April 20 at the Winter Park Community Center. It allowed the city’s senior community a chance to grow even closer together.

About 89 seniors came to dance the night away and turn back the clock. They received corsages, took a senior photo and hit the dance floor just like they did in their high school days.

Recreation and Family Services Manager Cathleen Daus said the idea all came from the desire to give seniors something more — especially with the slower summer months for seniors coming up at the community center.

“April’s prom season, and we do these other events in the city — I wanted to do something for (the seniors),” Daus said. “Some of the seniors have even said to me, ‘We called each other and talked about what kind of dress we’re wearing. Where are you doing your makeup? Where are you getting your hair done?’ They really kind of bonded over something extra.”

But the seniors weren’t dancing alone Friday night. Ladies attending the event by themselves had the chance to dance with 15 local police officers and firefighters from Winter Park.

From upbeat hip-hop tunes to slow ballads that rocked partners back-and-forth, the music had the seniors and first-responders dancing all night.

“All the people I know here are completely blown away with the details and everyone on the staff worked so hard to make this a most amazing prom night,” Winter Park resident and prom attendee Victoria Andalucia, 70, said. “It’s just beyond anything we could have imagined. Do we feel young again? Every day here at the center.”

Prom attendee Ilia Quiñones, 70, said the event helped build that sense of friendship among the seniors at the community center — all in a fun, cut-loose atmosphere.

“Even though we see each other, we’re never dressed up — we’re doing yoga or swimming or walking,” said Quiñones, who had her high school prom in 1964. “All of us that are here are now community. … Just because we’re aging and getting older, it doesn’t mean our spirit is as old. You’re as young as you want to be, and in a setting like this I think we’re very young right now. Maybe we’ll turn into a pumpkin at midnight, but right now, we’re princesses.”

Police Chief Michael Deal said the prom was a great event and that the department was happy to be a part of it. Some of the officers were a little shy at first, but the men in blue filled the dance floor by the time the party ramped up.

“We thought it was a good idea to be part of it,” Deal said. “I don’t think we anticipated how much fun it would be getting out there and dancing and enjoying the evening with these ladies. We had a lot of smiles and it was worthwhile. … I definitely had more fun at this prom than I did my senior prom, I feel pretty confident saying that. I certainly had more dance partners at this prom than I did my senior prom.”

Daus said the city plans on making the prom an annual event.

“I hope it brings (seniors) closer together and makes them realize that they’re part of a family here in Winter Park,” Daus said. “Some of my seniors have said, ‘I haven’t been this excited even for my high school prom.’ It was really neat to listen to those kinds of stories. I want them to know especially if they feel alone, they are not alone.”


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