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Dangling icicles glowed and the dancers were so delighted they clapped their hands at the "Winter Wonderland" Christmas ball.

For many of these prom goers, adults who are developmentally delayed, the ball was the first time they'd had the pleasure of one of life's coming-of-age rituals.

"It's something they might not have been able to enjoy when they were in school," said Kallie Smith, who helped plan the ball.

Thanks to coordinated efforts by the staff of Residential Resources, Father's House church and Angel Closet at Valley Christian Family Center, gleaming decorations and festive presents matched the mood of the dancers Friday night at Father's House.

The idea for the event was conceived and planned by staff members from Hallee Place, one of several local residences for people who are developmentally delayed.

Smith marshalled donations for the ball. Father's House loaned the agency their facilities, and Residential Resources staff members gathered up gowns from past proms for the clients to wear.

Angel Closet, a mission of Valley Christian that collects gowns and dresses for local high schoolers to wear to dances, also helped outfit the dancers.

Smith said they were determined to make the venue a "fascinating place." The glow of holiday lights bounced off the glittering, paper-wrapped packages that lined the white plastic tables where party goers sipped punch and munched on cookies.

A local band, The Chuck Tilton Trio, serenaded dancers with classic hits as Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" and the Eric Clapton tune "Wonderful Tonight." The youthful participants quickly picked up the festive mood.

Abra Allison, wearing an elegant pink gown, twirled in a twist-like dance with staff member Tiffany Ames, while a smiling Justin Tafoya cut a rug with the tall, blonde Felicia Howard.

Like any other prom, preparations took hours — not just for the location, but for the glamorous get-ups.

The women of Alex Place — Jennifer Ward, Sheree Jennings, Billie Jo Anshutz and Anne Werner — spent most of the afternoon primping with the help of staff members Annette Church, Jackie Hill, Jenny Jones and Debra Blanks.

Ward sat in her wheelchair as Church applied lipstick and eye makeup, while Hill curled Jennings' dark hair and piled it high.

"Are you excited?" Church asked Jennings, who sat very still in her white formal.

"Yeah," Jennings replied, clapping her hands.

Others at the dance went all out for the event, including Paula Scheid.

"I got my hair massaged and my fingers massaged," she said, holding out freshly painted fingertips that blushed pinkish-red. "I went to the beauty salon."

As the dancers clapped and twirled about in wheelchairs, Smith said she hopes to make the ball a regular event. "I want to be able to do it every year," she said. "They are having so much fun."


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