Tea honors nonagenarians

Claire Burroughes, left, ties a velvet cape around Nina Luckett as she is crowned queen at a nonagenarian tea for seniors over 90 at the Baxter-Curren Senior Center Tuesday afternoon. (Staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

With some confined to wheelchairs and most dressed to impress, Curry County nonagenarians arrived at the Baxter-Curren Senior Center to attend High Tea.

The 39th annual event was held to honor residents age 90 older, according to coordinator Brenda Hankins.

As the band played an upbeat tune, Alden Henderson, 90, swung his wife, Jewel, 82, agilely around the dance floor. The couple said they attend events such as the High Tea for the music and socialization. Jewel Henderson, smartly dressed in a polka-dot dress, said the senior citizen gatherings are always fun.

“There is no drinking and no cursing,” she said.

The handsome pair, who dance twice weekly, playfully teased one another as they chatted with friends seated at their table.

“I never got to go to a dance until I was 70,” Jewel Henderson said, “so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

With a twinkle in his eyes and a bright smile on his face, Alden Henderson fondly watched his wife of 11 years.

“She thinks all these (parties) are for her,” he said teasingly.

City Commissioner Ron Edwards read a proclamation signed by Mayor David Lansford officially announcing Tuesday as Nonagenarian Day in Clovis. Edwards addressed the more than 30 nonagenarians attendees with a short speech.

“My grandchildren think I’m old,” he said, “but I’m just a pup.”

Claire Burroughes, community relations director for the city of Clovis, assisted Hankins in crowning the king and queen of the tea. The oldest attendees were chosen as royalty. Nina Luckett, 104, was crowned queen with a sparkling tiara.

“I’m too old to be the queen,” she quipped.

Retirement Ranch resident D.C. Dial, 92, replaced his green and yellow Oakland A’s baseball cap with a red king’s crown.

Hankins said she has nothing but admiration for the attendees.

“I see the aging process and I admire it,” she said, “because although the body changes, the spirit remains the same.”