Dec 052004
Authors: Erin Tracy

Young and old alike joined together at eight retirement homes in Fort Collins and Loveland Saturday to celebrate the holiday season.

At the Columbine Care Center West retirement home, music, conversations and laughter filled the sprucely decorated commons room as members of the CSU Greek community danced, mingled and ate snacks with residents.

Sarah Pierson, an activities director for Columbine Care Center West, said the center provides a party for family and relatives of the residents every year, but decided to join with the CSU Greek community after they were approached with the idea of a joint party.

"Last year was the first time we had the ball with the Greeks," Pierson said. "We decided to combine the two again this year because it was so much fun."

Kristen Reed, president of Order of Omega and senior speech communications major, came up with the idea to have a joint party and said she thought it sounded like something fun the whole Greek community could do together.

"We like that it is an all-Greek community service," Reed said. "This year we had about 110 volunteers from the Greek system."

She said that each of the eight facilities had an option of activities for the afternoon party. Residents and Greek volunteers could sing Christmas Carols, dance, watch The Jumpin' Jive Cats perform or watch a live band.

The Columbine Care Center West decided to play CDs for their musical enjoyment.

"We have musical entertainment at some facilities, but we chose CDs," Pierson said. "It gets really loud in here and you can provide a lot more variety (with CDs)."

Although many of the residents were restricted to wheelchairs, they did not let that stop them from enjoying the dance floor. Several had an employee, Greek volunteer or relative twirl them around in their wheelchairs.

Frank Saracino, a resident of Columbine Care Center West, was one of the residents that spent much of his time on the dance floor.

Although he was in a wheelchair, Saracino moved his feet to the music as he danced with several of the volunteers and employees. He wore a red Santa Claus hat, a grin absorbed his face and his eyes twinkled with enjoyment as he was twirled around the room.

Even though some people were not dancing or talking smiles were still seen across the room.

Elaine Jensen, a resident of Columbine Care Center West, said that although she could not dance, she just enjoyed watching people.

"We can't get up and dance, but we can still enjoy it and have a good time," Jensen said. "(I enjoy) just looking at people; people watching."

Not only did the party entertain the residents but also the Greek volunteers and family members.

"I did this last year," said Lauren Koziel, a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority and junior exercise science major. "I really enjoy spending time around elderly people; I think they enjoy it too."

One of the favorite activities among the residents and family members was an appearance from the Sugar Plum Fairies.

The Sugar Plum Fairies, made up of activity assistant Donald Alvarez and head of maintenance Rich Church, performed a dance at the end of the party to a song from "The Nutcracker."

The two came out in Santa hats, sunglasses, tank tops, tights and socks.

Alvarez and Church attempted to perform a ballet dance for about a minute before they brought a few of the residents to the dance floor to twirl with them in their wheelchairs.

Donna Kendall, a resident of Columbine Care Center West, said with a huge smile on her face that the Sugar Plum Fairies were her favorite part of the party.

"It was great," Kendall said. "That was totally great."


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