January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 45°F


Young and old unite through jazz at Harvest Moon Dance

Young and old from the Ithaca community mingled, jitterbugged and Lindy Hopped for the 20th annual Harvest Moon Dance tonight in Emerson Suites.

Harvest Moon Dance
Jerry Van Buren and Kathy Chapman swing dance during the 20th annual Harvest Moon Dance tonight in Emerson Suites. Kevin Campbell/The Ithacan

Hosted by the Aging and Gerontology Education Society at Ithaca College, the event ushered in more than 100 guests from professors and students to children and elderly members of the community.

Senior Lauren Campasano, a member of AGES, said promoting intergenerational activities is one of the main goals of the group and the Gerontology Institute.

“It keeps them young,” she said, “Students learn so much from them as well. It’s not as much as why it’s important for everyone involved. Not only is it a social setting for them to talk to students, but also other older adults.”

Campasano said if they can get elderly members on the dance floor, it’s a great way to keep them active and have fun.

The Blue Moon band, a local swing dance music group, filled the room throughout the night with a mix of swing, jazz and blues classics like “Rock Around the Clock,” “What a Wonderful World” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”

Marge and Jim Hovanec, who live about two miles from the college, attended the Harvest Moon Dance for the second time and said they came for the live music and atmosphere.

“It’s the best kept secret in Ithaca,” Jim said.

Marge and Jim, who danced the jitterbug, a type of swing dancing, to “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” said they learned to dance “back in the ’60s” in high school.

“It’s nice to get out of your age range and be part of the younger generation,” Jim said.

Breelan Nash, recreation and volunteer coordinator at Longview, a local residential senior retirement community that attended the dance, said this type of event is great for the community because the era they grew up in was centered around music and dance.

“For them, it’s kind of a step back in time to how they grew up when they were teens and young adults,” she said.

Nash said the event is a huge morale booster for the elders and one of the few opportunities they get to interact with a younger age group.

“It’s a way to communicate with older adults and get them involved in our community,” she said. “It’s really special that they plan events just for them.”

Celia Lahr, a member of the Greater Ithaca Activities Center who goes to the event every year, said the Harvest Moon Dance is one of the nicest events the group attends.

“I enjoy meeting students,” she said. “I enjoy the people able to get out.”

Lahr said there are two types of people at these events — those who “sit around and complain” and those who like to have a good time.

“I love a good time,” Lahr said.

Campasano said the best part of the night is the conversations.

“They have a whole life they’ve lived with all these experiences that we are nowhere near,” she said.

This article has been changed to reflect the following change: Tom Knight and the Blue Moon band was changed to Blue Moon band.