Southland seniors celebrate Valentine's a day early

Many seniors danced to slow songs, as the bands tried to mix them in with more uptempo ones.
Many seniors danced to slow songs, as the bands tried to mix them in with more uptempo ones.

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For the over 500 Los Angeles seniors who packed the multipurpose room of Los Angeles Christian Presbyterian Church on Monday afternoon, Valentine's Day started a day early. There, Councilman Jose Huizar played host to the 14th district's 5th annual Senior Snow Ball.

"It came about five years ago," recalled Huizar. "We recognized as we visited seniors at senior centers that some of them had their children taking care of them this time of year, but others wouldn't hear from anyone. We wanted to make sure that whether you have your loved ones calling you or not this time of year, that all of them get to celebrate Valentine's Day."

Crowds of seniors from across the city mingled over free food and drinks, provided by local small businesses. A house band played songs in Spanish, though only a handful were dancing.

Phil and Mabel Barragan were two of them.

"We have people come in with walkers, wheelchairs, and getting out on the dance floor," said Mabel (69). "It never ceases to amaze me. Really! That's what it's all about. To keep going."

"We're always busy," added Phil. "[The dance] gets [senior citizens] out of the house, gives them something to do, something to look forward to."

According to Huizar, the Senior Snow Ball grows larger every year.

"First year we did it we had a few hundred seniors," said the councilman. "[Now], I hear it all year round the rest of the year - who was at the dance, who talked to who."

Phil Barragan appreciates Huizar's hosting the dance, saying that he thinks "it's nice that he takes care of the seniors in his district." Mabel, however, was a little more pragmatic.

"It's just his way of acknowledging us so that we go to the polls and vote," she said. When asked if it worked, she says - laughing - that she thinks it does.