WaKEENEY — The decorations were hung and sparkled in the light, the punch chilled. Corsages were pinned and ties straightened. The seniors were ready for their prom.
This was not the high-school prom, however, as these seniors are residents of Trego County-Lemke Memorial Hospital’s Long Term Care.
Residents gathered Thursday in an activity room adorned with decorations from Trego Community High School’s prom to enjoy their own celebration.
The party was the brainchild of Sarah Fabrizius, activities director assistant. This was actually the second year the LTC had a prom for residents.
Fabrizius was helping take down decorations from a daddy-daughter dance by the recreation commission in 2014 when she got the idea for the LTC prom.
“It’s just a sin that you have all those prom decorations and they just get thrown away,” she said.
The decorations, both then and now, are from the TCHS prom. The seniors donate them to the rec commission and the LTC for their parties.
At the 2014 prom, Fabrizius collected a dozen prom dresses as old as 50 years to add to the decorations. This year, though, she collected prom dresses for the female residents to wear to the afternoon party. She also collected neckties for the men.
Residents even helped make their corsages from napkins.
“You’re never too old to play dress-up,” Fabrizius said.
There was a kissing booth with chocolate Hershey Kisses and snacks matching the circus theme of the decorations — animal crackers, punch, watermelon and popcorn. Members of Brownie Troop No. 202 and Girl Scout Troop No. 110 acted as servers, handing out the treats to residents.
The staff even chose a prom king and queen — Philip Beam and Bertha Riedel.
Live music was provided by Luella and Leroy Pierce on piano and accordion.
Some residents even got up to dance or danced in their seats with LTC staff members, including 100-year-old Lenora Wiedeman.
Also among the party-goers was 101-year-old Hazel Miller, sporting a yellow prom dress.
For some of the residents, Fabrizius said, it was the first prom they ever attended.
“Some have said, ‘I never went to prom because I never went to high school,’ ” she said.
Martha Martin, 85, said she had a prom at her high school in Sterling, Colo., but it didn’t include a big dance.
“We went to a banquet,” she said.
Martin fondly remembered the dress she wore then.
“At my senior prom, it was yellow. My mother made it. My mother was a seamstress,” she said.
“I like to get a little dressed up,” she said, admiring the purple dress she was wearing Thursday.
Lloyd Nilhas, 91, wore a purple tie to match his Kansas State University T-shirt. He and his wife, Ruth, 89, also enjoyed the activities.
“This is fun,” Ruth said.
“She’s a great director,” Ruth said of Fabrizius. “She keeps it going and is always decorating.”