Homeland senior prom brings sparkle to a winter’s day

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“Time to crown the king and queen!”

Every prom needs a king and queen, and Carl Barna and Loretta Colestock entered like royalty – which they were!

The first Homeland Masquerade Senior Prom was underway. Created by the Homeland Activities Department to brighten up a late January day, the prom had everything – corsages and boutonnieres, masquerade masks, ball gowns, crowns for the king and queen, and music to dance by.

For many residents, the Homeland prom brought memories of proms past. Katherine Harrity, wearing a sparkly blue sweater and rhinestone necklace, remembered the proms in her hometown of Hamburg, NY.

“I always got a new dress,” she said while Judy Garland’s song “Embraceable You” played in the background. “It was a real dress-up time, and of course, everyone was trying to outdo somebody else.”

She didn’t remember much about the music and admitted that dancing to pop tunes of the day wasn’t her thing.

“I did square dancing,” she said. “Modern, Western-style square dancing. I enjoyed it greatly. I had a lot of fun.”

Resident Alice Lowe, adorned in sparkly earrings and a red sweater with rhinestone snowflakes, has a distinct memory of her prom – especially the strict chaperones.

“They were very guarded,” she said. “You went in the building, and you stayed in the building, and if you left the building, uh-oh.”

Betty Hungerford, Homeland’s longtime development director, enjoyed the prom with her fellow residents. The dress she wore to the junior prom stood out in her memory.

“My daddy took me shopping for it,” she said. “Bowman’s had a beautiful department store. It was really pretty. It was navy blue over pink tulle.”

King and Queen Carl Barna and Loretta Colestock, voted into the honor by residents, were crowned with fanfare and proceeded to give the royal wave to the crowd. Activities Coordinator Diomaris Pumarol, who came up with the prom idea, placed crowns on their heads and sashes across their shoulders. As he will probably be known from now on, King Carl also got a fur-lined red cape.

Loretta was resplendent in an elegant, navy-blue gown with a touch of beading. She bought it for a class reunion and figured she’d bring it along in the move to Homeland. She was surprised to be named queen, but “it’s nice that fellow residents voted for me,” she said.

Carl said he was initially reluctant to accept the honor because he’s never been one for dressing up. Loretta convinced him to take the crown.

“I said if everybody voted for him, then he should do it,” she said. “He said, ‘Well, I won’t dress up,’ and I said, ‘You’re you. This is the way you are, and they still voted for you, so that’s what you do.’”

Now that he was king, Carl said he felt “like a million dollars.”

“It’s very nice of everybody,” he said.

After the coronation, the dancing began. Residents, their family members, and staff danced to the music of Glenn Miller, Elvis Presley, and the Four Tops.

One resident took to the dance floor looking glamorous in a winter white gown that she got for a granddaughter’s wedding.

“I couldn’t do this every day, but I love it!” she said.

Dancing with her was Kathy Griffey, daughter of a Homeland resident. As they danced to “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch,” Kathy called the prom “a wonderful thing for the folks that live here.”

Homeland’s reputation for excellent care attracted Kathy’s mother. She chose Homeland after the family studied their options extensively.

“It’s a good way to welcome the new people that have moved in,” she said of the prom. “Homeland has a wonderful reputation, and this is a nice affair. I thought it was really sweet.”