Heron Point Dance to become tradition among local community

By Heather Fabritze

News Co-Editor

The Heron Point Valentine’s Dance returned for its second year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, Feb. 16, establishing an annual tradition of residents line dancing and swinging around with students on the wooden Heron Point floor.

Starting up again last year, the Student Government Association Service and Community Relations Committee took it upon themselves to reignite a relationship with the local nursing home. Residents and members of the Washington College community used to gather for a celebration yearly, but the health restrictions brought on by the pandemic halted that tradition.

To the joy of all groups involved, WC students filtered once again into the organization’s makeshift ballroom. A photo booth was the first feature that they saw as they walked in, stacked high with masquerade masks, fun hats, and brightly colored joke glasses.

A DJ stationed at the head of the room blasted a mix of line dances, older tunes, and clean party music from the 2000s.

Since last year’s Valentine’s Dance, which featured similar activities, there were more collaborations between the College and Heron Point than in the last five years combined. According to Heron Point’s Director of Life Engagement Kimberly Cox, students served ice cream over the holidays, handed out beads for their Mardi Gras celebration, and painted nails.

Alpha Omicron Pi and Phi Delta Theta, a sorority and fraternity on campus respectively, also hosted a social event at the home last October where they played bocce ball with the residents.

Cox said that Heron Point’s community members “love [their] WC students” and the enthusiasm they show for collaborative celebrations.

“Students will continue to look forward to this annual dance,” Cox said. “They have just as much fun as our residents.”

This year, SGA Secretary of Service and Community Relations sophomore Brooke Thomas organized the dance. Her connection to the event is a little unique due to her involvement in its re-conception.

“Because the initial idea for a Valentine’s Dance at Heron Point came from my volunteer group last year, it feels very full circle to be able to plan that same event more than a year later,” Thomas said.

She maintained consistent email communication with Cox throughout the process and was responsible for advertising to students and arranging transportation. Her senate committee specifically took charge of designing the dance’s graphics and spreading word on campus.

Freshman Tiyaba Jamil, who attended the event with her friends, decided to come after seeing it advertised on Instagram. Although she thinks that more coverage in the future could increase turnout, she loved speaking with the residents and line dancing with them.

“It was a lot of fun, and I’m glad I went with my friends…As for the dance itself, I loved the layout, music, and people who attended,” Jamil said.

An addition that Thomas made to the celebration was bringing the Heron Point residents roses from AOII’s sale that week and handmade Valentine’s cards, which senators wrote and designed.

One of Thomas’ committee members, sophomore Kyla Trinidad, enjoyed “meeting the residents and seeing the joy on their faces” when they were given the extra gifts.

“It was a really heartwarming moment,” Trinidad said. “Later in the night, a few of my sorority sisters and I met an AOII alumna and graduate of Washington College who was so excited to meet everyone.”

The staff of Heron Point arranged the remainder of the dance’s features — the DJ, refreshments, and the ever-popular photo booth.

“We hire a fun DJ and a photo booth with props and let the magic happen,” Cox said. “The magic is watching the interactions with the students and residents.”

According to Thomas, over the course of the night, she heard a lot of “positive anecdotes, life lessons, and compliments” all over the room. Just getting to talk with the local elderly community and share experiences together was enough to make the event planning all worth it.

“In doing events like this, we are building strong relationships between Washington College and local organizations,” Thomas said. “I hope that events like this continue to happen and that the relationships between the college and other locals continue to get stronger and stronger.”

“It’s also nice to think that, after enough time spent at Heron Point, students and residents will recognize each other and start to form friendships with each other,” Thomas said.

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Cox

Photo Caption: Juniors Kaitlin Osucha and Emily Marik and senior Paige Dauplaise take photos with Heron Point residents.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *