Ron and Joan Peterson were the first to hit the floor. 

Despite months of exhausting dialysis for Ron’s multiple myeloma cancer, the Chicago couple still got up and partied on Dec. 29 at the Howard Mohr Community Center’s annual New Year’s Eve Party for seniors, who boogied to such classics as “Shake Baby Shake” and waltzed to slow tunes like “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” The center’s theme this year was “masquerade,” with some of the party’s 85 attendees donning Phantom of the Opera-style masks and enjoying dinner, dancing and even a countdown to “midnight” with a champagne toast — despite celebrating 2018’s arrival a few days early. Seniors came from as far as Plainfield to party in Forest Park. 

“It’s excellent,” said Joan Peterson, 78, breathing heavily as she rushed back to her table for a quick break. One song later she was back on the floor, her gold Mardi Gras beads bouncing as she jived with Ron. 

Decked in a red-and-gold mask, Brenda Powers declared the Petersons’ attitude excellent. Powers, child care director for the center, was responsible for organizing and decorating the community center for the event. She said the duo attends every function and trip the community center hosts, even if Ron isn’t feeling his best. 

“They’re always having fun and living life to the fullest,” Powers said of the dynamic dancing duo. “I think older people sometimes don’t get out often. It’s just nice for them to have something to do for New Year’s.”  

Powers said community center staff spent two days painting signs, draping Christmas lights and organizing for the big party. Rose Catering served up brisket, mashed potatoes, dessert and two different types of punch to attendees. 

Though she hails from Maywood, Dorothy Lane, 81, said she joined the Forest Park center’s senior club years ago for events like this. 

“When they said ‘party,’ you know I had to be there,” Lane said. 

She sat in the back of the party, weighing leg spasms against her desire to dance. She also wore a neck brace. Lane recently had surgery. Her wish for 2018?

“Good health and stay involved in the community,” she said.


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