Dinner Dance Brings Thanksgiving With a Twist

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

While numerous forms of entertainment media have reduced the popular opinion of Thanksgiving to a stress-filled day of arguments with the in-laws, there are still people who believe in the spirit of togetherness at the holiday. With this in mind, more than 200 Saint Joseph's students and local senior citizens dined on turkey and danced the mashed potato during the University's 31st annual Thanksgiving Dinner Dance on Thursday, Nov. 8, in Campion Student Center's Crimson Cafeteria.

The senior guests traveled to Saint Joseph's from 17 senior centers around the area, including New Horizon Senior Center in Narberth, the Latches Lane Condominiums in Merion Station, and the Philadelphia Senior Center and Wynnefield Senior Citizens Club.

During the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, guests were entertained by members of the University Singers, Cap and Bells Dramatic Arts Society and the chapel choir. But those who expected the event to be a night of stifled conversation with grandparents might have been surprised by the action on the floor, which was flooded with dancers backed by a band playing music ranging from the Big Band era to Motown.

"It's a great chance to interact with people from the community and to show them our moves," said Kevin Clancy, a sophomore marketing major.

"They try to teach us dances with steps, but we don't have the coordination, so we get by on improvising," added sophomore art education major Jeff Wallin.

Mary Colleen Norcia, a senior taking part in her first dinner dance, embraced the spirit of the evening, happy to interact with new and interesting people. "Through all the service at SJU, the best aspect is the community that you're getting involved with, whether you're immersing yourself in another culture or interacting with people across the street," she said. "Having dinner or building a house, it's all about cultivating relationships."

The guests, many of whom spent more time on the dance floor than the students, appreciated the opportunity to relive their youth for a night. Annie Mae Brown, a resident at Mahlon Lewis Apartments at 56th and Race streets in Philadelphia, was celebrating her third dinner dance at Saint Joseph's. She said that the event is unrivaled.

"We have a ball here every year," Brown said. "It's a blast to spend time with the kids for a night. I've done things like this at other senior centers, but it's never this fun."

Norcia agreed with Brown's sentiment. "I don't know if they do this at other universities, but if they do, it's certainly not as impressive as this," she said. "We [students] are all very fortunate to be connected to such a unique university."

--Jeffrey Martin '04, '05 (M.A.)



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