"I... can’t help.... falling in love... with youuu..."
The Elvis Presley classic streamed throughout the dining room of the Rittenhouse Village of Valparaiso on Valentine’s Day. Dancers waltzed around the room together, drifting with the sounds of the 50’s. Then, suddenly they picked up the pace, clucking along to the Chicken Dance, before sliding into the Cupid Shuffle.
"This is wonderful!" Nancy Miton yelled above the DJ’s music. "It makes me feel young again!"
Miton and her partner sashayed around the room. Their feet were moving and their faces were smiling as they paraded around the other couples on the dance floor. Tuesday afternoon was the always fun Sweetheart Dance held at the Valpo Rittenhouse facility, located at 1300 Vale Park Rd, to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
The event is held every year, Valparaiso Senior Lifestyle Counselor said. She and the staff were dishing out homemade desserts made and refilling the cups of the residents, who were all sitting in the dining room to watch or participate in the dancing.
The desserts included chocolate-covered strawberries, mini cheesecake bites, truffles, and petifores and beverages included sweet, fresh cherry punch and coffee.
"Everyone in the Rittenhouse community comes down (from their rooms)," Reisen said.
The Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Dance is one of the facility’s bigger events, drawing about 20 people from outside the resident home. Reisen said the events usually host about 150 people, which includes the residents, their friends and family, and outside guests.
For this event, the extra guests invited were The Bonner Dancers, a group of dancers from the Bonner Senior Center in Portage. Carol Shepard, the Director of the group for the last 10 years, teaches dance lessons to members of the center every Tuesday.
"I have been teaching dancing for 30 years," she said, while sitting in the dining room of Rittenhouse. "I retired, then decided to teach some more and I became the director for the Bonner group."
Events like the Sweetheart Dance, and the upcoming Senior Prom held at the Rittenhouse Village in Portage on Friday 17, are activities she and her fellow dancers love to do.
"We love going out and doing things like this," she said. "We like to get people up, if they can, and moving."
The music was played by Five Star DJ and Karaoke Entertainment, a company which covers weddings, parties, and other events throughout Northwest Indiana.
At the Sweetheart Dance, the tunes ranged from the 50’s to Wild Cherry’s "Play That Funky Music" to the beloved, "Y.M.C.A" by the Village People. Whatever the tune was, the residents, guests, and the staff were laughing and enjoying the dancing.
Though she couldn’t dance due to a recent fall, resident Joan Augustyn clapped her hands and smiled as she watched the dancers. Her daughter-in-law Ruthann Augustyn was there to enjoy the event with her.
"She is pretty happy," Ruthann said, watching her family member. "She is happy here. She says they (the staff) cook better than I do."
Ruthann visits Joan every other day, and joins in on the fun during the events.
"This is so much fun," Ruthann said. "It is better than just being in the room."
They were joined by Bobbi Breyfogle, another resident who watched from the tables, which were decorated in pink and red hearts and candy.
She said she was having fun watching as well.
As the Bonner professionals set up The Stroll, holding their partner’s hands and heading down the "aisle" of dancers, Miton watched and clapped, taking a short break in her seat.
"Did you see? My partner and I, we danced around all over the place!" she exclaimed. "This place, they really do a lot here. It is so fun here. There are lots of things to do!"
To find out more information and to join in on the fun, upcoming events, click here.
1300 Vale Park Road
Valparaiso, IN 46383
(219) - 531 - 2485
Visit Rittenhouse Senior Living's Website