Venice 2000 planning ‘Senior Prom’ for older residents at Oakwood Recreation Center

Prom to honor DeDe McCrary for her work on behalf of seniors


While the young may be the future of the world, seniors still contribute considerably to society. They are the ones with experience and knowledge, although these attributes aren’t always appreciated.

Many times seniors are shunted aside — they’re not respected and they’re not considered important.

Venice 2000, an organization building a cohesive community working together to improve social and economic conditions in Oakwood, seeks to change this image.

Three years ago the Venice 2000 board of directors decided it was time to acknowledge and honor longtime residents with a “Senior Prom.”

“It’s an opportunity for them to have fun without leaving their community,” said board president DeDe McCrary last year. DeDe died of a massive stroke in October and the prom will honor her for all the work she did on the behalf of seniors.

Stan Mohammad, Venice 2000 executive director and co-founder, acknowledges DeDe as a “champion in her own right.”

“She was like the mother of Venice 2000,” he says. “She kept everybody honest, down to earth. She never said no. She was dynamite.”

This year’s Senior Prom is scheduled from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 24th, at the Oakwood Recreation Center, 767 California Ave. in Venice. Tickets are only $7, in order to make it affordable. There will be finger food, live entertainment, dancing and a lot of fun.

The upbeat tempo will be provided by DJ David Williams. He offers a variety of dance music that everyone will enjoy. A great treat is his lip sync show where, in costume, he mimics the mannerisms of Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Rick James, among others.

Anthony and Doris Rogers, married for 61 years, were crowned king and queen last year.

“It was really nice because it gives seniors a chance to be recognized” says Doris. “I enjoyed it. I think it is good for the community.

“I’m happy to be a senior right now. A lot of things have happened in my life and I’m still here. Besides my age and illness, I’m still here, still moving.

“We were kind of surprised to be crowned king and queen. I plan to come back again this year.”

Now 83, Doris has lived in Venice since she was six years old and still lives on the same street were she grew up.

She went to Sunset Avenue School when it was located where the Venice Skills Center is now and she attended Venice High School, when it was still bungalows after the ’33 earthquake.

Another longtime resident, Zelda James at 63, has lived in Venice all her life. She is president of the Oakwood Senior Club, which meets at the Oakwood Recreation Center.

“It’s a chance to get out and be entertained,” she says. “I’m really glad that Venice 2000 thought enough about us to want to do something like this for us.”

Also on the “younger” side are Arnold and Sally De La Paz at 60 and 62 respectively.

“It’s good for the seniors,” says Sally. “They really enjoyed themselves. It gets them out of the house. It gets them to do things.

“Boy, they dance. They dance more than me and Arnold. They have more energy than us.”

The age span is wide. The required minimum age is 55. Everyone must come with a partner at least that age. The seniors can bring their children or grandchildren but one of the pair must be 55 years of age or older.

Hazel Hopkins, 79, was escorted by her son Kevin, 37. Hazel said she thought it was a nice affair.

“The DJ and music were great and the food was good,” she says. “It’s an excellent activity for seniors,” says Kevin.

“It was cool for my mom. She really enjoyed herself and that’s what it’s all about. It was something good to be part of — the experience with my mom. That’s all we have — the memories.”

At least three people who attended last year were in their early 90s. Donato Cocuzza and Jimmie Simpson were two of the men. Simpson has since passed away.

Navalette “Novie” Bailey, at 92, was one of the older women but definitely young at heart in her flapper dress with feathers in her hair.

To make reservations, call Teresa Smith by Tuesday, March 20th, at (310) 823-6100.