Retired women in Arizona are their still strutting their stuff as part of a local performance squad – the Sun City Poms.
The women, who range in age from 55 to just over 70, are using their free time to shake their way into their twilight years.
One of the group’s newest members, Gloria Tolla, a longtime sufferer of osteoarthritis, joined the troupe 18 months ago to breathe life back into her aching joints.
“What inspired me to join was my love for dancing. I was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis when I was in my 20s, they told me I’d be crippled by the time I was in my 40s,” The 67-year-old said. “So, all my life I’ve pushed myself by exercising, finding things to do, dancing was one of them. I had both hips done within a year before I joined the Sun City Poms.”
Tolla said the first practice she didn’t know if she was cut out for the team, but she kept going.
“The practices are quite grueling, especially the choreographer,” Tolla said. “It gives me chance to express myself, since I retired I’ve been looking for something to do and this is my little niche that I found. It makes me feel young again.”
The group performs around 40 times a year in their sparkling blue and silver sequined costumes. They dance at parades and various sporting events.
“The first I had ever heard of the Sun City Poms was about ten years ago and I was watching the fiesta bowl parade on TV,” Veteran Pom and Teaching Instructor Ruth Pharris, 71, said, “This group came on marching with their glittery costumes, their arms going every which way, and doing their routines. And I thought, ‘Holy cow, I’ll never be able to do what they do.’”
But, Pharris was wrong. She joined the squad seven years ago and has gained boundless confidence. She's now the troupe’s instructor and choreographer.
The women practice twice a week, beginning in September, to prepare for the year’s upcoming performances.
“I have probably lost 15 pounds, my waist declined because I was doing so much more activity that I had never, ever done before. Not only does it help the physical well-being, but the mental as well,” Pharris said. “The crowds are awesome - they are so in awe that we do what we do, they’re just amazed that their grandmothers, basically, are getting out there on the dance floor in our little sequin costumes.”