Want to go?
WHAT: Port Clinton Seniors’ ninth annual Fall Big Band Dance, “Puttin' On The Ritz”
WHEN: 2-5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 4
WHERE: Moose Lodge #1610, 1105 W. Lakeshore Dr., Port Clinton
COST: $10 in advance & $12 at the door
INFO: Tickets can be purchased at the Port Clinton Senior Center, 320 E. Third St., Port Clinton. Or call Juanita Mills-Persely at 419-341-1080
If a survey was taken in the middle of the ‘00s about what interests were more than likely to go by the wayside in the next decade, ballroom dancing would have invariably been at the top of the list.
After all, with all of the hip and the hop, the iPhone this and iPod that, kids these days aren’t gravitating to the groovy sounds of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller that got their grandparents and great-grandparents swinging.
Then Tom Bergeron and “Dancing With the Stars” entered our living rooms and brought together 8 to 88-year-olds through just such dance. Reality tv stars aren’t the only ones trying to keep ballroom popular. One local person hoping to keep the big band sound alive is Juanita Mills-Persely, who, along with her husband Harry, helped put on the Port Clinton Seniors’ annual Fall Big Band Dance.
Sadly, Harry passed away this summer, which left Mills-Persely to stage the ninth annual event “Puttin’ On The Ritz” as a memorial tribute to her husband.
“He knew we’d have dance,” said Port Clinton resident Mills-Persely regarding her recently deceased Harry. “Yes, it is going to be difficult, but we’re going to keep it going, and we’re probably going to have one in April.”
Mills-Persely said Harry started the event prior to the “Dancing With the Stars” phenomenon as a way to connect to the past, as well as keep the music alive.
“The reason it started was because there was nowhere that people could go and dance to the music that they were used to,” said Port Clinton Seniors Event and Fundraiser Chairman Mills-Persely. “I’m talking about our seniors, WWII era. They always talked about dances and going to Rainbow Gardens and Gem Beach. You could just see the nostalgia in the thoughts that came to their minds.
“And my husband Harry was a WWII veteran and from that era. He was always talking about the dances he loved to dance. And if Harry wanted something, his wife would try to do it for him. So that’s how this started. We organized dances and it became popular not only with the old people, because some of them can no longer dance, but with the younger ones who are taking ballroom dancing lessons.”
The average Fall Big Band Dance attracts between 150 and 160 people annually at the scenic Moose Lodge, which boasts Lake Erie views to create an enticing atmosphere. Proceeds from the event go to the Port Clinton Senior Center for community service work, crafts and more.
“It’s a celebration of memories, a celebration of enjoying life,” Mills-Persely said. “When you leave that dance, you’ll carry new memories with you.”