GLENVAR – Cinderella herself would have felt at home in the pumpkin-shaped carriage that arrived to pick up Joe Thomas and friends last week.
A while back, Salem carriage service owner Buck Simmons promised retired contractor Thomas when he turned 91, Simmons would give him a carriage ride. On April 26,
Simmons made good on that promise on April 26, during the Fairy Tale Ball at the center that bears Joseph C. Thomas’ name.
Thomas and friends rode in style in a delicate-looking brand-new, white wrought-iron carriage pulled by gleaming black draft horses Doc and Ace.
Simmons donated carriage rides for all the residents who wanted to go.
And after the ride around the campus of Richfield Retirement Community in Glenvar, the owner of Buck Simmons Carriage Services told “Big Joe,” “When I get to be 91, I want you to do this for me.”
Thomas smiled broadly and agreed. Ever the gentleman, Thomas held out his hand to help steady JCT residents Edna Gordon and Jeanette Walker as they got into the carriage.
With them on that first ride were Julie Redding, who is 6-1/2 and the daughter of JCT Administrative Assistant Heather Redding, 5-year-old Peyton Greer and her dad, Jeremy – a therapist at JCT who was Prince Charming for the evening.
Overseeing the ride from the back in full regalia similar to that of Prince Charming was Junior Coachman Nathanael Patterson. In his other life, Nathanel is a piano student of Beverly Adams, life enrichment coordinator at JCT who planned the whole enchanted evening.
The ladies of JCT were dressed to the nines, 32 of them in glittery long formals and everyone with real flower corsages, freshly coiffed hair and manicured fingernails.
In addition to the gentlemen who live at JCT, their escorts were members of the Glenvar High School football team, who held the ladies gently as the Stardusters performed live swing music for dancing and listening.
The backdrop for photographs was a huge story book that started “Once upon a time the Joseph C. Thomas center held a ‘Fairy Tale Ball…”
There was even a frog at the door, like every princess hopes to kiss to turn into a prince.
Residents elected their own royalty for the evening. The king was Clarence Richardson, with Queen Helen Thornton, Princess Eileen Dunavant and Prince Raymond Irby.
Adams spends months thinking of ideas for an annual prom-type event for which she has won awards. “I think about it months ahead,” she said.
The ladies have their choices of gowns donated this year by a staff member in alumni relations at Virginia Tech who brought 11 formals, Adams said; Goodwill and other stores.
“It’s neat how everybody goes together,” she said.
For more photographs from the Fairy Tale Ball, see this week’s May 2 print issue of the Salem Times-Register.