EATON — After a long year-and-a-half spent cooped up at home, Preble County’s seniors returned to the dance floor this week as the Preble County Council on Aging (PCCOA) resumed their weekly dances, this time at the Preble County Fairgrounds.
According to PCCOA Executive Director Shelley Ratliff, it was the first dance held since March of 2020. The Senior Center had previously closed down around the same time, reopening this past June.
“They’ve all been talking about [the dance],” Ratliff said. “We get Facebook messages all the time, ‘When’s the dance starting? When’s the dance starting?’…The really neat thing tonight is some of these people haven’t seen each other in over a year. Watching them make that connection again, it’s good.”
It was estimated over 100 seniors were in attendance as The Silvertones, a Camden-based band, performed for three hours on Wednesday night.
“I think [attendance] probably exceeded what we expected,” Ratliff said. “I’ve seen a lot of new faces, but a lot of old faces too.
“Paul Lindquist, who was a former board member and he was on the Advisory Council for the Area Agency on Aging – he was also a Preble County resident,” Ratliff continued. “He said that when he came to our dances, when he walked in, he felt like he was a teenager again, and that’s exactly what’s happening.”
State Representative Rodney Creech, who was a six-year board member of the PCCOA and is currently on the Ohio Department of Aging’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Task Force, said he talked to a number of seniors who were excited for these events to return.
“During COVID, they were wanting to open the Senior Center back up, they were wanting to get back. Our seniors, which the ones that are the highest risk, they were the ones wanting to get back and we’re like, ‘No, we got to make sure [it’s safe],’…but no, it’s great to see everybody back and having fun.”
Though lockdowns and mandates have been lifted for some time, Ratliff and Creech agreed this event marked a return to normalcy for the county’s seniors.
“We’ve had one of the best fairs we’ve ever had, and I think this will be one of the most important dances they’ve ever had,” Creech said.
While this dance marked the return of the weekly event, the dances will continue on Thursdays at the Big Red Barn at the Preble County Council on Aging’s Senior Center, located at 800 E. St. Clair St. in Eaton.