Ladies compete for chance to meet Rockettes

Published 8:50 pm Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Most women over the age of 50 would not even attempt a Rockettes-style high kick.

However, Suffolk resident Janell Rardon, 50, her mother, Mildred Schoedler, 81, and her mother’s friends Ida May Hill, 97, and Maggie McDaniel, 87, not only danced like the Rockettes, but videotaped it and put it on the Internet.

The four did the stunt in the hopes of winning a contest, sponsored by the Hilton Garden Inn, to win a trip for four to New York City and the opportunity to meet the Radio City Rockettes, a four-night stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Herald Square, a bus ride with the Rockettes to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, four seats to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular show at Radio City Music Hall, and $1,000 of spending money for the trip.

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Janell Rardon said she found out about the contest because she is on the Hilton’s e-newsletter list. “I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Rardon enlisted the help of her mother and her friends, and went to her mother’s assisted-living home in Chesapeake on a Friday afternoon to tape the video. Rardon’s son held the camera while the four ladies kicked it up.

“It was so fun,” Rardon said. “Sometimes, you just need some fun in life.”

Though Rardon’s dream is to be in New York, N.Y. around the holidays, she has never been able to make the trip. With the recent economic downtown, it seemed like her dream would be put off for another year, she said.

“It just didn’t seem like it was going to work out, but when I saw this contest I was like, ‘Oh, maybe my dream will come true,’” Rardon said.

The ladies didn’t do much practicing for the 29-second video — the whole session lasted less than 15 minutes, Rardon said.

“We just kind of whipped it together,” said Rardon, who used to teach at a dance studio. “They did really well. They were the most fun students I’ve ever had.”

The video shows the ladies, dressed in black pants and white sweaters, side-stepping at first, then kicking higher in unison. Finally, Rardon steps forward and gives two above-the-head high kicks to finish off the performance.

The women were chosen from about 50 entries as one of the top 10 finalists, said Lindsay Kos, a spokeswoman for Hilton Garden Inn, which is the official hotel of the Rockettes tour and Radio City Music Hall. The public is invited to vote for their favorite finalist to choose the group who will meet the Rockettes.

To vote for “Grandma and the Girls,” as the video is titled, visit Voting ends at 5 p.m. Friday.