For Claire Vlasic, the night was a long time coming. The lights, decor, red carpet, music, dancing, photo booth smiles and that perfect dress.
The 65-year-old widow, usually quiet and reserved, was ready for her first prom.
“Better late than never,” Vlasic said.
Brightview Severna Park hosted a senior prom on May 11 at the senior living complex, complete with everything you’d expect from a high-school version, but with an added bonus of legally consuming some bubbly to get those dancing feet, or wheels, loose.
It was more than a drink that had Vlasic smiling and feeling good. She was also named a prom queen.
“It’s such an unexpected honor,” said Vlasic, adding that being a relatively recent widow, the prom, and honor of being named a prom queen, was “healing and therapeutic.”
Emme Ray is a vibrant living assistant at Brightview Severna Park, where she’s worked for almost six years. Ray led the planning for the senior prom.
“I encourage you all to dance and have fun and mingle, and act like it’s prom, but get a little wilder than you were at your prom,” Ray told the Brightview residents before kicking off the event.
Shirley “Shu Shu” Landon, who was a prom queen in 1954 at her high school in Pennsylvania, attended the Brightview prom with her date, Daniel Connor.
“When I’m with her, I’m happy,” Connor said.
It wasn’t just seniors and staff enjoying the evening, though. A group of midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy were on hand to chat with the residents and dance. Some midshipmen even entertained the crowd with a karaoke rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’”
“It’s really something mids pride themselves on, serving the community,” said Brody Boggs, a first-year student, or plebe, at the U.S. Naval Academy. “It’s really good to get out there and hear the stories of some really great people.”
While Boggs must wait for his commissioning to travel the globe as a naval officer, one of the residents Boggs met at Brightview made him realize just how small the world can seem.
Boggs hails from Portsmouth, Ohio, a town near the border of Kentucky, with a population that hovers around 18,000. Brightview Severna Park resident Bev Dahlman is from the same town. As the two started chatting during prom, they realized that Dahlman’s best friend growing up was Boggs’ grandmother.
“It was elaborate, it was fun,” Dahlman said about the prom, still beaming after reminiscing about her hometown with Boggs.
Noreen Lindsay, a 92-year-old Brightview Severna Park resident, may have been seated in her wheelchair, but that didn’t stop her from taking a spin on the red carpet, doing the robot dance or joining in the best way she could for the “Cupid Shuffle” line dance.
Lindsay — whose granddaughter, Hayley Scamurra, was a silver medalist in women’s ice hockey at the 2022 Winter Olympics — was accompanied by her daughter, Beckie Lindsay, and her daughter’s boyfriend, Paul Furlow. Furlow’s smiles mirrored those of Noreen’s as he pushed her around the prom area and served as her date.
Ray said Brightview’s senior prom exceeded expectations.
“It was just heartwarming and amazing to see them pick up on the energy we gave,” Ray said.
Vlasic wasn’t the only one sporting a sash by the end of the night. To accompany her as a prom queen, Brightview resident Preston Seely was named a prom king. Brightview couple Don and Yvonne Taylor were also named as a prom king and queen, respectively.
“We had a good time,” Yvonne said. “It’s a happy place here.”
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