GWINN - Apples were everywhere at the Forsyth Township Senior Center's dining room last Friday and music filled the air.
It was the monthly birthday celebration at the center, with seniors born in September taking center stage.
"They told me apples were the theme this month," said Joyce Soma, who bakes the birthday cake each month for the party. "So I used apples on the cake. I wrote the names of different kinds of apples and what you can make with apples.
John Valente sings “Me and My Gal”?during the birthday celebration. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
"I almost put an apple pie recipe on the cake, but I thought that might be too much."
Apples were the decoration on the placecards, with Psalm 18:8 written on each: "Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings."
The celebration has been a monthly tradition for years.
"We do the birthday party once a month for everybody whose birthday it is that month," said Gloria LaFave, one of the center's active participants. "Everyone celebrates together. It's a lot of fun."
Three of the center's regulars were in attendance Friday for the September party: Elaine Roos, who turned 79 on Sept. 9; Chic LaFave, who turned 92 on Sept. 7; and Charlotte Ryall, who turned 84 on Sept. 12.
Those three blew out the birthday candles while being serenaded with "Happy Birthday" by the 25 or so other seniors in attendance.
Another birthday party tradition is singing, although one senior admitted, "We sing all the time around here. We sing after meals."
But the birthday party adds a special element each month: There is music to sing along to provided by Darlene and Tom Auld of The Golden Years karaoke.
"I'm country," Darlene said.
"And I'm the Sinatra stuff," Tom said. "They like the oldies here."
The Aulds bring along a book that lists the songs they have available for the seniors to sing along to. Some seniors perused the book, but others were just looking forward to dancing, they said.
To get the party started, Darlene sings "Who's Sorry Now?" solo, but many in the audience join along with the classic associated with Connie Francis.
Next up is "Cowboy's Sweetheart," then Sharon Landry and John Valente duet on "Me and My Gal." The audience singalong is especially strong on that tune.
From Irving Berlin's "Always" to the romantic "Spanish Eyes," the music keeps flowing. And true to their word, some of the seniors get up to dance to the music.
The Dean Martin signature tune "That's Amore" is another big hit with the crowd, drawing just about everyone into the singing.
"We do this on the third Friday of every month," said Julie Shaw, senior center director. "We celebrate all the people who have a birthday that month. We try to have a theme to it, like it was blueberries in August and apples in September. We usually have a holiday theme in holiday months.
"It's something everyone looks forward to," Shaw said. "We can share the celebration of our lives together. We can mark another year."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.