With fingers intertwined, Dora Bellion, 85, and Ted Farrer, 89, glide across the auditorium floor at Bowen Park, gracefully weaving between other couples practising ballroom dancing Tuesday morning.
Bellion and Farrer were both widowers when they joined ballroom dancing through Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors, a city parks and recreation program. Bellion remembers going to get a glass of water and Farrer asking her if she was going with anybody. She just wanted to be friends, but he said he’d work on her, she said, smiling at her now husband. Some of the ballroom dancers were guests at their wedding.
She thinks the Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors program is “fantastic,” adding it gets people together and that’s needed when you’re older, instead of staying at home.
The couple are among more than 1,000 people who are flexing their skills, getting fit and meeting new people through the program, which offers access to recreational activities for an annual fee to those 60-and-older.
On March 7, the City of Nanaimo and Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors society will host an open house and Bowen’s 50th anniversary celebration where people can pick up a cuppa joe and a slice of cake, enjoy music, demonstrations, games and tour the Bowen Park site.
“We’re celebrating our 50th birthday and people really don’t know what we do or how it works and so this will be for people who are 60-plus to find out what programs we have to offer and meet people who participate,” said Joanne Husband, marketing director with Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors society.
Husband joined Harbour City Seniors in 1999 and said she’s made so many friends and there’s always something to do and participate in.
“What I like about the exercise class is you join at the level you can handle and you don’t have to feel embarrassed if you can’t quite put your arm as high as the next guy because everyone is in the same place, all trying to do their best and we’re all seniors,” she said. “We just make a joke about it.”
Ron and Kathy Weisner, moving alongside Bellion and Farrer last week, joined the program for the ballroom class. They travel from Salt Spring Island to dance at Bowen Park and Ron Weisner said they enjoy the people.
The open house runs from 1-3 p.m. at Bowen Park auditorium.