In Pineville, romance is alive, or at least it is for its seniors. Every year around Valentine’s Day, seniors who are residents of Pineville, along with members of the Mecklenburg County Hot Lunch program that meets in Pineville’s Belle Johnston Community Center, gather for an evening of dining, entertainment and prizes.The 37th annual Senior Citizens Valentine Banquet is hosted by Pineville’s Parks and Recreation department and is held the Friday before Valentine’s Day each year.“We look forward to it every year,” says Barbara Ireton, 70 and a member of the lunch program that meets in Pineville’s community center. Pineville has put on this free annual event for the seniors of the town since 1976. The banquet has outgrown several spaces and is now held in the gym at the Belle Johnston Community Center.“There’s been a big influx of retirement communities in Pineville over the past few years which has caused the event to grow,” says Heather Creech, 39, programs and events coordinator for Pineville Parks and Recreation. “Generally we have 200 seniors signed up,” says Creech.The night begins at 6 p.m. with dinner served by Pineville’s Town Council and their spouses. The dinner this year is catered by Sweet Tea’s, a Pineville-based restaurant and the cake is from Two on Earth Bakery on Pineville’s historic Main Street. Red velvet is the cake flavor of choice and goes well with the red heart and balloon decorations.“We even give out candy bags sponsored by Pineville Rehabilitation and Living Center to each attendee. Town businesses enjoy the opportunity to get involved in citizens’ lives,” says Kristy Detwiler, 52, Pineville Parks and Recreation director. Louise Cranford, 83, has attended the banquet for more than 20 years. Louise has lived in Pineville for 55 years and owned an in-home daycare there for 30 years.“Last year was special because of the entertainment. There was old timer mountain music,” says Cranford.This year’s entertainment is provided by the Hinson Girls, a bluegrass group from Lancaster. Along with dinner and entertainment, the evening winds down with a door prize for each senior.“We give flashlights, candles, scarves, games, candy, all kinds of things and the seniors love it,” says Detwiler. The big finale to the night is the crowning of the king and queen of the banquet. “The seniors start arriving at 5 and vote during the banquet. Each senior gets a ballot and they can vote for anyone they want,” says Creech. At the end of the night the king and queen are unveiled and go home with a plaque honoring their award. The king and queen are given a cape and crown, then pose for a photo. The event has become an annual reunion for the seniors of Pineville. They enjoy seeing each other every year and dressing up all in red. One resident who will be missed this year is Pearl Satterfield, 103.“Ms. Satterfield has come every year for as long as I can remember, but can no longer come because of her health. She will surely be missed this year and we’ll keep her in our thoughts and prayers,” says Detwiler. If you are interested in participating in a future Valentine Banquet, contact Pineville Parks and Recreation, 704-889-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, Feb. 08, 2013
Valentine banquet celebrates Pineville’s seniors
For 37 years, the tradition brings residents together for fun and romance
Pat, 83, and Robert, 75, Gladden, were the 2012 King and Queen of Pineville's annual Valentine Banquet. COURTESY OF PINEVILLE PARKS AND RECREATION