WADSWORTH — It was a Crystal Ball to remember for Jo Ann and Ward Adkins, as the former high school sweethearts were crowned king and queen of the 2019 Wadsworth senior citizens prom Tuesday evening.
The royal moment began nearly six decades ago.
After going their separate ways and losing touch after high school, the couple reconnected through Facebook some 58 years later and got married in September 2016.
“He was a basketball player, and I was a cheerleader,” Jo Ann said of their early romance.
Wearing their crowns, the couple shared a dance to the 1956 Elvis Presley song “Love Me Tender.”
It was the first prom they had ever attended together.
Dozens of area senior citizens joined the king and queen for the 15th annual prom.
Event chairwoman Jenna Slonaker said nearly 90 people attended the annual shindig for seniors.
Traditionally hosted by the Wadsworth Older Adults Foundation and the Soprema Senior Center at Wadsworth High School, the event relocated to The Galaxy Restaurant and Banquet Center for this special anniversary edition, Slonaker said.
“It is just a special event for them to go out with friends and family,” Slonaker said. “I know that some seniors actually have friends that come from out of town for this event.”
Mindy Keller, admissions director of the Village of St. Edward in Wadsworth, said the facility, which opened earlier this year, has partnered with the Soprema Senior Center since 2015.
Keller said that while no residents from the Village were in attendance Tuesday, the senior citizens prom is a fantastic opportunity for Wadsworth’s senior population.
“It is great interaction,” Keller said. “It is letting all the residents know we are here for them; it gets them out to have a fun event.”
After prom photos by Wadsworth Councilman Tom Stugmyer and a champagne toast by emcee Jim Koewler of the Koewler Law Firm, guests enjoyed a plated dinner before making their way to the dance floor.
Couples twisted and turned to uptempo beats like Chubby Checkers’ 1960 hit “The Twist” and “At the Hop,” released by Danny and the Juniors in 1958, and also enjoyed slow dances to The Everly Brothers.
Barb Leatherman of the Wadsworth Senior Citizens Commission said she enjoys watching the couples dance together.
Leatherman said one of her favorite memories from a senior prom was from several years ago.
“There was a couple there, she was in red, he was in a red tux, they were very elderly,” she said. “They didn’t get to go to their first prom because it was interrupted by the war.”
But they danced together that night.
Just like Mark Wallyn and Pam Hutchins, both of Wadsworth.
Neither attended their own senior proms, but decided to go as a couple to the senior citizen prom.
Wallyn joked that the couple would hit the dance floor, but he hoped he wouldn’t step on Hutchins’ feet with his size 15 shoes.