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Benson seniors get dressed up for the time-honored tradition

Janell Skarsten had the honors of serving as the photographer as Elizabeth Freese poses in her outfit Friday for the annual prom at Golden Living Center Meadow Lane in Benson. Tribune photos by Tom Cherveny

No different than when he first started courting her 58 years ago, Stan Vollan knows that live music and an opportunity to dance are what his wife, Joan, loves more than anything else.

They took to the floor again Friday night, as they were among nearly 100 people to enjoy the live music and most of all the fanfare of the annual "prom" at the Golden Living Center, Meadow Lane in Benson.

"We like to dance," said Stan, who told of how he and his wife made many trips to the Lakeside Ballroom in Glenwood.

"It's a good time," Joan said.

This marked the fifth year that the Benson facility hosted a prom for its residents. Like those before it, the event featured a walleye dinner, dance with the live music of Bernett Pearson and Johnny Sturgeon of Montevideo, and a grand march at the end of it all.

Joan Vollan is a resident of the nursing home, and admits she is not as nimble on the dance floor as in former years. But she and her husband said their love for music and dance is no less today.

That's exactly why chief executive director Eric Everson introduced the idea of holding a May prom at the home. He'd seen similar events elsewhere, and knew how popular it was with the residents and the guests they may invite.

It's a hit with the staff as well. Activities director Mardelle Bridgland said staff and residents alike enjoy all the pre-prom activities as much as the event itself.

Environmental services director Donna Goff makes sure of that. Her love is to collect dresses and jewelry. She brings her traveling wardrobe to the home, and offers the women their choice of fine dresses and sparkling jewelry for the big night.

The men aren't left out, either. They sport suit coats and ties for the occasion.

Young helpers from the Girls Ranch in Benson join the fun. They help the women apply make-up and get ready for the dinner and dance.

Everyone takes to the floor for the dance; even wheelchair-bound residents will take a spin with staff or their dates for the night.

It's all about having a good time, and making it possible for residents to continue living to the fullest, according to Everson.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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