The American Legion Post 89 in Seymour was filled with chatter as people enjoyed pizza from Papa John’s.
Once disc jockey Bill Elmore played the “Chicken Dance” and stood in the middle of the dance floor, nearly 20 people joined him.
He then played Bruno Mars’ hit “Uptown Funk,” and even more people took to the dance floor. Each song after that, everyone grooved the night away.
“Locomotion” led to people forming a train, and there were a few more upbeat tunes before “Celebration” played. Then the night of friends, fellowship and fun concluded with the limbo.
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Montana Casto and Whitney Ditto, who both live in Seymour and work at Jackson Developmental Industries, said they had a good time showing off their dance moves April 28 at the Mardi Gras spring dance for people with disabilities.
“I learned them all myself,” Casto said of his moves. “I like to drop and do regular dancing and some other stuff. I like everything.”
Ditto said she learned to dance from watching television and movies. She said the “Chicken Dance” was the perfect song to play to get everyone moving.
“I like the ‘Chicken Dance.’ I like the hokey-pokey. I like it all,” Ditto said. “I’m a dancer, so I like to dance.”
Casto and Ditto both said they enjoyed spending time with friends, family and coworkers.
“I think it’s pretty good for everybody, and we’re having a good time hanging out,” Casto said.
“You get to see different, new people. And I get to see all of my old (coworkers) from Columbus,” Ditto said. “I just came here to enjoy myself.”
The event was presented by The Arc of Jackson County and the Seymour Evening Lions Club. Before the dance was established three years ago, the two groups conducted a disabilities awareness fair for several years.
Bob Kamman, disabilities awareness chairman with the Seymour Evening Lions Club, said the club has been involved with events for people with disabilities for about 10 years.
“It used to be a fair with vendors to show the services available,” he said. “They got away from that, and they just said, ‘Hey, let’s have an evening of fun for them,’ and I said, ‘Sure, let’s put it together.'”
Kerry Bonney, president of The Arc of Jackson County, said that was a good change.
“A lot of times, these folks don’t get a chance to be together, so they get to come together, see each other, see old friends, and it’s just fun,” she said. “One of my board members said one time, ‘This is a little piece of heaven here on Earth,’ and I have to say I agree.”
With well more than 100 people at this year’s event, Kamman said it was the largest turnout he has seen.
“I think we’re getting payback by seeing the smiles and the fun on their face. That’s what it’s all about — having a good time,” Kamman said.
Bonney said everyone attending the event benefited from the experience.
“Of course, it’s good for them, the socialization,” she said of the people with disabilities. “But it’s also good for our community to interact. The Lions, it gives them an opportunity to interact with a population that maybe they wouldn’t normally interact with, socialize with, so I think it’s a win-win.”
The Lions Club received donations from people in the community, and that provided door prizes for caregivers and giveaways for the people with disabilities.
“It’s just one of our community projects where we try to go out and do a good thing,” Kamman said. “We’re not raising money or anything. We’re just glad to be here and help do this.”
Bonney and most of her Arc board members have jobs that revolve around working with people with disabilities. That has always been close to Bonney’s heart since her son has disabilities.
“It’s my passion,” she said. “It really touches the heart. It really does.”
The dance is another chance to interact with those people.
“It’s just the icing on the cake,” Bonney said, smiling. “This is what you work for. You work for them to be able to get out into the community. … That brings an awareness to all of the public that has been involved.”
For Bonney, the dance has always been a night to remember.
“I have made lifelong friends, and they never forget you,” she said. “I leave with many, many hugs every year.”