Seniors mark return of Saturday dances with prom-themed soirée

·2 min read
Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

Two St. John's friends finally got the chance to attend their prom this weekend, some 60 years after they attended grade school.

Jean Pearce and Shirley Quinlan could barely sit still in the hours leading up to the senior prom dinner and dance held Saturday at branch 1 of the Royal Canadian Legion on Blackmarsh Road in St. John's.

"I think it's going to be more exciting for us now, because we're older," Quinlan said while getting gussied up for the event Saturday afternoon. "All these years later, and we're finally going to have a prom."

Saturday's event was one of the first major social gatherings the legion had hosted since the start of the pandemic. The evening featured a three-course dinner, with dancing to follow.

The legion's dining hall was decked out in white table cloths, red ribbons, and multi-coloured balloons. On the stage sat a number of prize packages, and two gilded crowns lay on a table in the entrance, waiting to be bestowed upon the yet-to-be-named prom king and queen.

Pearce, who helped organize the event, said members had been feeling the need to get together for a while.

"They're all up in age," she said. "And they have nothing to do."

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

Once the event was announced, gauging enthusiasm wasn't difficult.

"Everybody went mad," Pearce said. "Tickets went flying."

A return to better times

Saturday dances were a regular occurrence at the Blackmarsh legion in pre-pandemic times, Quinlan said. It's partly why the past 18 months have felt like an eternity for many members.

"Nobody could do anything, [so] they couldn't wait to get to dancing," she said.

Branch 1 president Colin Patey, who pitched in to organize, said Saturday's event was long overdue.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

"We've lost a lot over the last 18 months and it's taking its toll, but we will come back," he said.

During those 18 months, the legion struggled to keep the lights on, Patey said. "There was nothing on the go. We couldn't even come to the building most of the time," he said.

He hoped prom night would signal a much-anticipated return to better times.

Emma Grunwald/CBC
Emma Grunwald/CBC

"It puts life back in this place [and] helps our volunteers, it just livens everything up again," he said. "It gives people a reason to dress up and go out."

Getting to dress up was the most exciting part for Quinlan. She had been waiting a while for a chance to wear a two-piece burgundy dress she originally bought for her wedding three years ago.

As for Pearce, she's just looking forward to seeing familiar faces again.

"Just the expression on people's faces when they walk in would do it for me," she said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting