Senior Prom for senior citizens

By Marissa Novel

Elderly couples smile and laugh as a full orchestra performs Carole King’s 1971 hit, “You’ve Got A Friend”. One man quickly sends his partner down for a dip, and scoops her into his arms.

This is just one scene from the seventh annual Senior Prom, a dance for senior citizens, at the Du Quoin State Fair Wednesday night.

Brian Bush, a community outreach coordinator for the secretary of state, said Secretary of State Jesse White created the dance in order to give back to seniors.


“The Senior Prom just gives an opportunity for seniors to be here at the fair to participate in something that’s special, just for them,” Bush said.

Bush said the dance, sponsored by Southern Illinois Healthcare, the secretary of state and the fair, also offers seniors information on traffic safety.

Illinois drivers from ages 69 to 80 have to renew their driver’s licenses every four years. Drivers from 81 to 86 must renew them every two years, and after 87 years they must renew them annually, according to the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Bush said the event helps seniors learn more about the rules of the road, without experiencing the anxiety many of them feel while entering the DMV.

One couple, Charlie McCann, of Carbondale, and Marcia Allen, of Murphysboro, originally met at SIU in 1965. They sat next to each other on the second day of their freshman year in physics class in Brown Auditorium.

“She’s the only person that I sat next to that I ever remembered,” McCann said.

Allen said they would run into each other at church and on campus occasionally, but it was not until two years ago they reunited in the same auditorium where they first met.


“Who says you can’t be 18 again?” McCann said.

Allen said they waited one year after the death of their spouses to reconnect. They talked on the phone for five months before making face-to-face contact.

She said she asked McCann why he never asked her out in college, and he said it was because she told him she had a boyfriend who was away in the Navy.

“I wasn’t going to hit on the poor lonesome girl,” McCann said.

Allen would later marry her boyfriend of the time. She said she and McCann both still grieve their spouses, but they are very glad they had the opportunity to revive their relationship.

“We now say we had physics together in 1965 but it took 47 years to find out if there was any chemistry,” Allen said.

McCann said as alumni they continue to be active with university activities and purchase season tickets to the football games every year.

“If it wouldn’t have been for SIU, we wouldn’t have had that bonding experience,” he said.

Marissa Novel can be reached at [email protected]on Twitter @marissanovelDE or at 536-3311 ext. 268.