The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Going to the Harvest Moon

Lutheran senior care blends generations

Every fall, residents of Trinity Oaks in Salisbury, N.C., look forward to the Harvest Moon Ball, an intergenerational prom held at this ELCA-affiliated continuing care retirement community.

Students from nearby Catawba College organize the formal dance, doing everything from helping residents with their hair, makeup and nails to being their dance partners on the big night. Both residents and students love the event, now in its eighth year.

“Outside of Christmas, it’s probably our biggest event,” said Trinity Oaks activities director Brenda Zimmerman.

The dance is a huge undertaking, involving 100 volunteers, about 65 residents and a 17-piece orchestra.

A week before the ball, Trinity Oaks staff set up a “store” where residents can find gowns, tuxedos and other prom accessories. Each year there is a special theme, whether that’s “Evening in Paris” or “Hawaiian Luau.” And every year each resident receives a corsage or boutonniere.

“A prom is as exciting at [age] 85 as it is at 18,” Zimmerman said. “I think it surprised [some of the] younger folks that our older residents really enjoy dressing up [and] dancing.”

And they do dance, whether they arrive by walker, wheelchair or on foot.

In addition to swing dance numbers and songs from bygone eras, special music during the evening honors residents who have served in the military. 

The first year they held the ball, a resident “had a very good-looking escort [from the college],” Zimmerman remembered. “All dressed up for the prom, she said, ‘I never thought I’d be this beautiful again.’ ”

During the event seniors, their relatives and the college students enjoy getting to know each other, trading experiences and perspectives.

For more information, visit www.lscarolinas.net.

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