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Caroline seniors dance the night away

The lights of the Christmas tree in the Caroline High School gym were bright Thursday night.

But the twinkle in the eyes of the 600 people who attended the annual senior Christmas gala was even brighter.

Each couple was escorted into the festively decorated gym by a member of the school’s JROTC, and the chivalry didn’t go unnoticed.

Several clubs at the high school—the National Honor Society, the Beta Club, the Interact Club—along with students in the culinary program, jumped in to assist with what’s become a trademark event for the Caroline Rotary Club.

Tables decked with poinsettias, tinsel and inflatable holiday decorations filled the gym, ready for the arrival of members of the golden generation.

Area churches bused in members of their congregations for the night of food, dancing and entertainment.

This year was the 14th time the Rotary Club has hosted the event. It began with just 50 seniors, but has grown to more than 10 times that over the years.

The Rev. Lloyd Fox, a Rotarian, had the idea years ago to do something to give back to the elder generation in the community.

For many, attending the gala has become a holiday tradition.

Alvin and Mabel Garnett, of Bowling Green, attended with Mount Tabor Baptist Church.

For Alvin Garnett, the appeal is multifaceted. “I enjoy meeting a lot of our friends, having good conversation, and the band,” he said.

And he had no complaints about the food either. The culinary students at Caroline High, led by Chef Jazz, served a meal of roasted chicken, herb potatoes, mixed vegetables, salad, rolls and cupcakes.

“It’s good to see people’s smiles and people enjoying the food,” said Freedom Wright, a junior and culinary student.

Candice Roberts, one of the students in the honor society who helped, isn’t a newcomer to the event. She helped last year, too. “I think it’s awesome; it helps get the community together,” she said.

Every year the students try to beat their record for getting the food out to the tables. This year was no different. In just seven minutes, the 24 students served every single person. That’s a new record, they said.

“The food is scrumptious,” Alvin Garnett said.

His wife, Mabel, agreed. “I look forward to it every year,” she said.

For Leander Green, it was his second time attending. He said he came back because he enjoys socializing with people and the fellowship it provides.

Part of the entertainment is the chance to see the county’s elected officials in a different light—competing in a dance contest, with county residents as their partners, in a “Dancing With the Stars” type of competition.

Among the highlights was the dancing by Supervisor Jeff Sili of Bowling Green District and Supervisor Jeff Black of Western Caroline District.

Sili, last year’s dance champion, dressed extra spiffily for the occasion complete with a silver bow tie, danced to Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”

Black—perhaps the most delightfully awkward of the dance competitors, spun his partner to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” He broke out dance moves such as the sprinkler and the lawn mower, much to the audience’s enjoyment.

Instead of a mirror ball trophy, the prize was $100 each for a male and female winner from the community.

Winning couples were Heather Dyson, one of the event’s organizers, and her partner, Charlie Clayton, along with Keith Marine, executive director of the Caroline YMCA, and his partner, Gladys Barnette.

And at the end of the evening, a $500 prize was awarded.

Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413


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