UNION, NJ — Union’s active older adults gathered for an evening of dinner and dancing at the Kenilworth VFW for the third annual Gateway Family YMCA, Five Points Branch “Senior Prom” on June 16.
The event featured dinner, a disc jockey at the turntables, a photo booth to capture the memories and, of course, the crowning of this year’s prom king and queen — Union residents Dan and Terry Guido.
Thomas Galuppo, director of healthy living at the YMCA, oversees fitness, sports and health programs. He told the Union Leader it was great seeing the seniors glammed up for the occasion.
“Every year I like to do something special just for them and we came up with the Senior Prom,” Galuppo said in a June 8 email. “It’s fun seeing them outside of workout clothes, outside of the fitness setting and just having fun.”
According to Galuppo, attendees look forward to the event each year.
“It is very much talked about leading up,” he said. “This is a chance for the seniors to get together and have fun outside of the YMCA. This event is also not limited to members only, it is open to the community, and members can bring friends and family. When people think of the YMCA, their first thought is always child care and kids’ programs; however, our seniors are a big part of our YMCA.”
Jessica Samolewicz, programs director at the YMCA, told the Union Leader that there is an active group of active older adults who take various classes at the Y.
“The socialization aspect is just as important for them as the health benefits,”
Samolewicz said in a June 18 email. “We realized they needed more opportunities to socialize with their friends outside of classes and just have fun. We have a lot of youth and family events at the Y throughout the year, but we really didn’t have any specific events for the seniors, so the prom was a fun idea. Thomas came up with the idea to give them the opportunity to dress up, enjoy each other’s company and dance.”
Samolewicz said the prom has opened the door for additional senior events, such as the YMCA’s Senior Olympics and Senior T-ball game.
According to Samolewicz, the balloons, tablecloths, food, DJ and a red carpet do set the stage, but that it’s the attendees who turn the event into a great evening.
“The important part of the prom and what makes it fun and successful is the people who come to it,” she said. “We’ve had the same DJ for the last three years and he plays all the music our members love. When the members first walk in, we take their prom picture and we take lots of pictures during the event.”
Samolewicz said that when the event was first announced, organizers were unsure of how people would react.
“Like anything else new, we weren’t sure how it would work the first year but as soon as the seniors heard about it, they were excited, right from the planning stages,” she said. “Now, in its third year, they look forward to it each year and encourage others to join in as well. We plan to keep it going for as long as they love attending. We’re lucky, we have a really great group of active older adults that attend our Y.”
For additional information about the Gateway Family YMCA Five Points Branch visit www.ymcaeuc.org/FIVE-POINTS-BRANCH.