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Valentine’s revelry for active seniors

Senior citizens, all dressed in their finery, were dancing to the music of James Brown on Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn Chesapeake/Suffolk on Harbour View Boulevard.

The annual Active Adult Sweetheart Ball organized Suffolk Parks and Recreation drew more than 180 adults aged 55 and older, all of whom were dressed in their Valentine’s Day best to dine, dance and have fun with other senior guests.

One of those guests, Larry Kindred Sr., is a 73-year-old retiree who was excited to get on the dance floor.

“Whatever I do, I can appreciate it,” Kindred said. “I can’t do much now, ‘cause I’m old and retired, but I still love line dancing.”

Kindred sat at a table with friends and new acquaintances for lunch. Attendees enjoyed a hearty meal at the event, with fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and mixed vegetables, followed by cheesecake for dessert.

Bertha Booker, 79, joined Kindred at the table. Booker and her friend were from Portsmouth, and it was her first year attending this Suffolk Parks and Recreation get-together for seniors.

She said it was a “fantastic” time with people from all walks of life, and many with “pretty gray hair.”

“It lets you know that they’ve lived a long time,” Booker quipped.

Mae Burke, a retired Suffolk Public Schools substitute teacher with about 10 years of teaching experience between Suffolk and Virginia Beach, also enjoyed the pleasant company at the table with Kindred.

Burke, 77, and Kindred have been friends for decades. Both have been going to Suffolk Parks and Recreation events like the Sweetheart Ball for years, and Burke said it’s a joy to get together with other seniors.

She gave a “big thank you” to Suffolk Parks and Recreation for organizing the program.

“It’s always eventful, it’s always something new to do, and we definitely look forward to it,” Burke said.

Guests at the Sweetheart Ball also enjoyed raffle prizes, games and a photo booth provided by ShutterBooth Hampton Roads. Event sponsors included UnitedHealthcare and Home Instead Senior Care.

Chelsea Price, special events coordinator for Suffolk Parks and Recreation, said that the purpose of the event was to bring seniors in the community together for fellowship and lunch before Valentine’s Day this week.

“It’s a formal, colorful, fun environment for the seniors to get together and just have some fun outside of their normal routine,” Price said, “(and) to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the dancing, and the lunch, and the photos.”

She said tickets for the Sweetheart Ball sold out quickly, and that the “phenomenal” turnout on Wednesday means that they’ll need even more tickets for their upcoming May event.

“People love this event, and we’re looking to expand the event in May to allow for more participants to come,” Price said.

For more information on Suffolk Parks and Recreation’s Active Adult Senior Program and other Parks and Recreation programs and events, visit suffolkva.us/266/Parks-Recreation.