As a young woman, Minnie Dixon never got to go to her school prom. Now at 75, she went to a prom for the first time, with her grandson as her escort.
Hinnant Family Dentistry sponsored a “senior” prom Friday at the Peggy Seegars Senior Center, which was completely free for those attending. The only catch was that they had to be 50 or older.
“We’ve done lots of things in the past, but this is the very first big event we’ve put on,” said office manager Heather Arnold.
The business has been in Goldsboro since 1965, and in 2015 started a community outreach program called Hinnant Helping Hands. Through the program, staff at the dentist office does something quarterly for the community.
The idea for the senior prom was the brainchild of patient coordinator Teresa Kincaid. The staff planned the event for several months, going all out with the theme of “Hollywood Senior Prom.” Each table contained a centerpiece of a little Emmy. Decorations were black, red, gold and silver, keeping with the Hollywood theme. Staff blew up 288 balloons to put on tables and hang from the ceiling. As those attending entered, they walked down a red carpet laid down just for them.
When Dixon heard about the prom, she asked her grandson, Marcus, to be her escort for the night, and he drove down from Raleigh to do just that.
“This is the woman that took care of me my whole life and still takes care of me,” he said. “I was excited when she asked me to be her escort. I had to go out and find me a suit and everything else and make sure I matched the colors she had. I love my grandma.”
Dixon’s long gown was gold. And she showed it off at the prom.
“I come to this building all the time, and when they said they were having a prom, I said, ‘Wow, I think I’d love to go to that.’ My husband’s been sick for five years, and I’m his caretaker. This gives me the opportunity to get out of the house and have a good time. And I always loved dressing up.”
Standing out in the crowd of almost 200 was Larry Taylor in his gold sequined jacket, which sparkled all over. He also wore a gold lapel, black vest, black pants, gold shoes, gold shirt, a gold white and black bow tie and a black hat with a gold band around it.
“I feel good,” the 62-year-old said during the prom. “I love coming here. I am a member of the senior center and come here to shoot pool. I also come to the dances and enjoy them. It’s nice to be around people.”
Friday night’s senior prom brought back memories of when Taylor attended both his junior and senior proms, graduating in 1975.
“I still feel young,” he said. “I feel like I’m 17 again.”
The last time Robin Harris, 64, went to a prom was 46 years ago.
“I’m here just to have a good time,” she said. “I am still blessed to be here at the senior prom. It brings back memories, like I’m still back in high school, and it makes me feel young again.”
She wore a long blue gown with a matching blue flower in her hair.
“It’s beautiful,” Harris said of her gown. “It’s different. I got it just for this prom.”
During the evening, a king and queen were voted on by those attending. Crowned were Stu and Alice Cox.
Local businesses donated various items for door prizes. A photographer snapped pictures of participants throughout the night to give to those attending and also post on the Hinnant Family Dentistry Facebook page. And a photo booth was set up, complete with props, for participants to take photos.
Refreshments consisted of heavy hors d’oeuvres, pigs in blankets, meatballs, finger sandwiches, chips and dip and more.
Almost the entire staff of Hinnant Dentistry, 19 people, helped out at the senior prom.
“We wanted to do everything we could to make it look like senior prom,” Arnold said. “We tried to do anything we possibly could to make them feel young and feel good about themselves. We have some of our patients attend who wore tuxes and gowns. Some ladies got their hair and nails done.
“It’s a big deal for these people. So many of them have lost a spouse. Having this fellowship and being able to get out and act young and have fun is great for them.”
Music was provided by a DJ, who played everything from Motown and The Temptations to country music and even Beyonce. And of course, music was played for those attending to get up and move to the Wobble.
“It was like planning for a wedding,” Arnold said. “People in the community have come together to help us. It’s really exciting.
“We hope people had a wonderful time. I hope it took them back to however many years ago when they went to their prom. I hope it made them feel young again.”
At the end of the two-hour event, those attending had only one complaint, said senior center director Paula Edwards. “It didn’t last long enough.”