By Maria José Subiria
A room decorated in black and orange was filled with laughter and joy, as witches and monsters "strutted their stuff," and intermingled throughout the afternoon.
Of course, there weren't any real witches, or monsters, but approximately 50 senior citizens from the Extra Years through Zest (XYZ) Club, who attended the Halloween Party at the Frank Bailey Senior Center on Friday.
The club meets on the first Friday of each month at the center, located at 6213 Riverdale Road, in Riverdale.
"I am 8 years old, and she's 28," joked senior, Patrick Caviglieno, about the ages of both his wife, and himself. "You only live once," exclaimed 83-year-old Irma Caviglieno.
The seniors, from all parts of Clayton County, were in character throughout the festivities, as they donned costumes to disguise themselves as: a mouse, a Roaring '20s flapper, a geisha, a Mafia don, and even a pimp -- just to name a few.
There was also a buffet lunch, which included hot dogs, barbecue beans, potato salad, chips and an array of sweet treats.
Kit Kitsmiller, an 85-year-old Riverdale resident, portrayed a pimp, and was accompanied by his fiancee, whose clothing matched his distinct, fluorescent-red suit.
Kitsmiller said, with pride and honor, that he chose his flamboyant costume because he used to work as a clown, named Zero, who was his alter ego for quite some time.
"We always have fun," he said in response to why he continues being a member of the XYZ Club. "The fellowship, and getting to see the different friends we've seen here ...[being] informed of all the activities."
Pat Shepard, president of the XYZ Club, wore a scarecrow costume, with vibrant colors. Her nails were painted a light, forest green, and bright-yellow straw flowed from her green, baggy poncho to her arms. The poncho contained various Halloween images, which she said she created -- and ironed on.
Her bright-orange, burlap pants, had green and red patches, and small scarecrows hung from her sides. Bright-purple shoes, with yellow straw over them, concluded the outfit.
"I like them [members' costumes], I like Halloween," said Shepard. "My whole house is decorated."
According to Shepard, membership organizations, such as the XYZ Club, are important in the lives of seniors, because they provide a chance to socialize, and participate in events that make senios feel like they are not alone, but a part of something that is fun to do.
When asked again why seniors join such groups, she answered readily: "To keep us young, and to let a person know that we have value. A lot of people think seniors watch a lot of TV all day ... We do things."
Shepard, who has been a member of the club for approximately 10 years, said it was created 30 years ago, at the Shellnut Inter-Generational Center, formally known as the Shellnut Senior Center, which is located at 849 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro.
She joined, she said, because a friend insisted that she should attend one of its meetings. "I have made so many good friends here, and I think it is very important for us [seniors] to have friends," she said.
Virginia Dickerson, an 85-year-old Morrow resident, said she believes it is important for seniors to have a social lifestyle, which includes making friends, conversing, and enjoying some sort of entertainment. "You look forward to things like this, even if you're sick," said Dickerson, who has been a member of the club for 30 years.
"I look forward to seeing old buddies. Not O.L.D., but O.L.E.," she said, as she chuckled softly, while her eyes were opened wide, full of exuberance.
Seniors, who were in costume, participated in a costume contest, and five were chosen as winners of "best costume." Among the best dressed were: Virginia Brannon, the witch; Carolyn Godfrey, a lady of the evening; Janet Stubbs, the flapper; Ronald Stubbs, the Mafia don; and Kit Kitsmiller, the pimp.