Nonagenarians get ‘wild’ at Stanly County Senior Center

Stanly County Senior Services revived its annual celebration for residents ages 90 and better on Tuesday at the Senior Center, filling the facility’s auditorium with honorees and guests.

This marked the 14th year the Senior Center offered the event, and follows a three-year hiatus forced by Covid.

“As of today, we had 65 guests ages 90 and up registered in advance,” said Senior Services Director Pam Sullivan, “and each one can bring up to two guests. When you add in our volunteers, staff and entertainers, that runs our attendance past 200.”

Residents of local assisted care and nursing care facilities were present in significant numbers, many of whom were transported to the event by staff from their respective facilities. Other attendees arrived with family, in addition to many who came on their own.

Mildred Whitley, 92, is still behind the steering wheel, and was happy to be in attendance.

“When I turned 90 and went to get my drivers’ license renewed, I thought they might turn me down because of my age,” she said. “But I passed the test, so I’m still out and around. I’m blessed to be able to be here.”

“I sure didn’t expect to see this many in attendance,” said 93-year-old Steve Hopkins as he enjoyed birthday cake provided by Albemarle Sweet Shop. “It’s great to be here and see everyone.”

Steve Hopkins, 93, left, arrives to the party, assisted by Allen Lawrence. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

Floyd Kinsey, above, and Mae Brooks, below, the two 98-year-olds at the party, the oldest ones to attend. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

Floyd Kinsey and Mae Brooks, both 98, were recognized as the “most senior” attendees, and received special balloons in recognition. Helena McClelland, whose actual 95th birthday fell on the day of the celebration, also received recognition.

Entertainment consistent with the event’s “Wild Wild West” theme was provided by the Stanly Senior Center Line Dancers, who performed a routine to the “Rawhide” theme, followed by Bill Crawley, who performed rope and lasso tricks.

The Stanly Senior Center Line Dancers perform at Tuesday’s party. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

Throughout the event, students from Stanly Community College, who are formulating a video production titled “Secrets to Longevity,” circulated through the audience, conversing with a number of guests, while recording their comments for inclusion in the project.

As is the case with many of the programs offered by Senior Services, volunteers are key to staffing and operations. In addition to the center’s regular volunteers, members of Stanly County American Legion Post 520 and members of the center’s line dance team assisted in serving the guests in attendance.

“We couldn’t make programs like this happen without our volunteers,” said Sullivan.