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Senior citizens never saying never, again

March 7, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Area senior citizens will be able to relive prom night during Western Michigan University's 19th annual Senior Prom from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, March 15, in the East Ballroom of the Bernhard Center on the WMU main campus in Kalamazoo.

The semi-formal event is a fun-filled nostalgic evening that brings hundreds of senior citizens together with WMU students, faculty and staff for a night of Big Band music and swing dancing.

This year's theme, "Western Royale: 007," is a take off on Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, 1953's "Casino Royale," which was made into a movie and released in theatres late last year. The theme helps close the generational gap by tying a movie that many of today's students are familiar with to an iconic character that many area senior citizens discovered a half-century ago.

The prom is open to the general public, and admission to the event as well as parking in the nearby parking structure is free. Those who arrive early will be able to "warm up" by participating in Early-Bird Bingo from 5 to 7 p.m.

Unlike in past years, the 2007 prom is being held on a Thursday. But all the other traditional elements of the event are being continued, including dance contests, prizes, free refreshments and photo keepsakes. Music will be provided by the Phoenix Big Band, a 15-piece ensemble from Kalamazoo that has been performing at the prom since the event's inception.

"The Senior Prom is one of the best ways for Kalamazoo area senior citizens and WMU students to enjoy an entertaining, and for many students, new experience. Rarely as students do we have such an amazing opportunity to enjoy the company of seniors who have so much to teach us," says Sarah Hurd, a junior public relations major from Saginaw, Mich., who is the event's student coordinator.

All of the night's activities allow everyone to relax and have fun, adds Hurd, a resident assistant for Draper/Siedschlag Residence Hall, which is organizing the prom.

"Don't worry about not knowing the steps to swing dancing," she advises. "Our seniors are great teachers, and in 18 years, no one has ever walked away without having had a great time. What could be better than free food, music, dancing and great company?"

The Senior Prom began in 1989 as a way for older WMU alumni and area residents to share an evening of fun and reminiscing with current students. The event gradually grew in popularity and last year, attracted some 500 senior citizens and members of the University community.

Early-bird activities were introduced in 1993 to accommodate the many seniors who prefer to arrive before the dancing starts and spend their entire evening on campus.

A half-dozen committees and scores of volunteers are helping Draper/Siedschlag organize the 2007 prom, and area businesses are again donating prizes. Financial assistance is being provided by several WMU organizations, including the Office of Residence Life, the Residence Hall Association, the Western Student Association, the Division of Student Affairs, and the individual residence hall councils.

To get the word out about the event, organizers rely on mail invitations, announcements at area senior citizen centers, and newspaper advertisements and stories. A personal invitation is not necessary to attend, and there is no need to RSVP.

For more information, contact Hurd at sarah.e.hurd@wmich.edu or (269) 387-9973 or (989) 295-6148. Information also may be obtained by calling Jessica Robinson, Draper-Siedschlag Hall director, at (269) 387-4791.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400