The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday May 21st

Senior groups host Gatsby-themed fundraising gala

Linda Mews loves any chance to dress up.

So when local senior groups came together to host a “The Great Gatsby”-themed gala Saturday, Mews knew she would be there.

“It’s fun to dress up, all I did was add the props,” Mews said, holding a 1920s-era cigarette holder and donning a long pearl necklace. “I was ready.”

Mews was one of 100 attendees at The Glitz, Glamour and Gatsby Gala at the Robert and Pearl Seymour Center. The gala was a fundraiser for Orange County’s senior citizen groups the Friends of the Seymour Center and the RSVP 55 .

To the sounds of a jazz band playing big band music, the seniors of the Seymour Center swung each other on the dance floor for hours and dined on hors d’oeuvres from places like Trader Joe’s and Mediterranean Deli.

At the gala, Mews got the chance to learn how to do the Charleston, a popular dance from the 1920s. During the week, Mews spends her time at the Seymour Center in Spanish classes and on day trips with her friends from the center.

She said she has even gone on international trips through the center to many countries including India, Greece and Switzerland and already has a trip to Costa Rica planned for February 2014.

Through the gala, the Friends group raised money to offer better programs and services, like staffing the center’s evening and weekend hours. RSVP 55 raised money for its annual volunteer recognition banquet, which will be held in the spring. In total, the event raised more than $7,000.

“It seems everyone is doing a Gatsby gala,” said Lee Pavao, an attendee who helped found the Seymour Center and played Jay Gatsby at Saturday’s gala.

“It’s really an extravaganza.”

Pavao said the two groups have been planning Saturday’s gala for about a year.

“Before you know it, it all comes together,” he said. “We don’t all sit in our rocking chairs.”

Pavao said the gala’s success was due to the importance of the Seymour Center to many seniors in the area. During the week, the Seymour Center offers educational programs, exercise classes and musical events.

“We’re bursting at the seams, we don’t have enough room,” Pavao said. “There are more seniors than there are kids in school.”

Kathie Reeves, who played the famous 1920s American actress Gloria Swanson during Saturday’s gala, said she was happy so many people came to support county seniors.

“We have standing room only,” Reeves said. “I’m delighted to see the turnout. I think everybody is going to have fun.”

Robert Seymour, one of the founders of the Seymour Center, said the Gatsby-themed event showed the center’s ability to attract seniors from all walks of life.

“I always enjoy coming here because I always enjoy seeing how much people love this place,” he said.

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