Senior Citizens Dance

CROWD FAVORITE — Betty Franzoni and Mary Lou Ruelas lead young and old alike in a generation blending version of the “chicken dance” at Sunnyside High School Shop students’ Senior Citizens Dance.

SUNNYSIDE — “It may have been a small crowd, but everyone seemed to be having fun,” was the verdict passed by Sunnyside High School auto shop instructor Nick Paulakis.

Paulakis and 10 of his auto shop students hosted its annual Sunday Senior Citizens dance in the high school commons.

He and his shop kids normally host the senior dance following the junior-senior prom and use the decorations as the setting for the event.

This year, with the prom date set for May and the weekends getting overbooked at the school, the auto shop students decided April 28 was the perfect date for their dance.

The young people and the 12 older folks mingled, shared stories and danced.

“I liked the chicken dance the best,” exclaimed Vanessa Moran, who also with her fellow volunteers, served pizza, punch and cookies to their guests.

The chicken dance was led by a couple of senior volunteers: sisters Mary Lou Ruelas and Betty Franzoni, who volunteer at the Senior Citizens Center, with the Meals on Wheels program.

“Everyone loves the chicken dance,” said Franzoni. The much younger volunteers love it too.

“It was a lot of fun,” announced Brayan Alvarez, a freshman who had never been to a party like that.

“The best part was the dancing,” he agreed.

Natalia Tolebano, a junior, admitted she had been to a lot of parties, but never one like Sunday’s dance.

“The music wasn’t very loud,” Tolebano announced, but it was okay, she decided.

Which was high praise for locally known accordion player Gary Malner, a popular musician among the “older set.”

“He is popular with the crowd, and they want live music,” Paulakis shared.

Having pizza with the older crowd and watching them smile was first-time dance volunteer Tyler Desmarais’ top choice.

For Nayeli Plancarte, sitting and visiting with the elders was her favorite part of the afternoon.

“I liked having them tell us stories about their lives, and travels, especially those who had graduated from SHS,” Plancarte added.

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