Senior citizens dances in Hallsville will resume thanks to crowdfunding
By Robin Y. Richardson
Feb. 7, 2018 at 11:49 p.m.
Updated Feb. 8, 2018 at 2:36 p.m.
An online fundraiser to help pay for senior citizen dances at Hallsville's Gold Hall has surpassed its goal of $3,500, raising enough money to pay for dances through the end of the year.
Heidi Hitt established the GoFund-Me.com account after learning a decision by Harrison County commissioners to raise rental rates at the newly renovated Gold Hall building by $100 endangered the decades-old dance tradition.
Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor and Pct. 3 Commissioner Phillip Mauldin previously said the rate increase is to help pay for upkeep and overall maintenance of the 6,000-square foot building.
Hitt said she set the fundraising goal at $3,500 because that amount would cover the difference between the old and new rental rates.
The seniors who used the facility for their weekly dances were accustomed to paying a flat $35 rental fee. They requested a discount of $50 because they couldn't afford the new $100 rate, but were denied.
"It's just wonderful," Etta Mizell, 75, said of the fundraiser. She and her late husband were one of the founders of the $5 Friday night dances for seniors at Gold Hall.
"I am so excited that we are going to be able to dance again, starting March 9," she said. "I am just so excited, and it's amazing how the people have shown so much interest in us senior citizens. We just feel so special that people have just responded in such a mighty way.
"I think people realize the importance of senior citizens getting out and fellowshipping and dancing and getting good exercise because we live longer and we're happier," she said, sharing that their oldest dancer, Paula Cain, who recently died at 101, loved dancing.
"She danced not only in Hallsville, but they went all over East Texas dancing, and she was such a powerful influence on all of us with her sweet, sweet spirit," Mizell said, sharing she danced with Cain for more than 20 years.
Hitt said the fundraiser got a big boost when the Patterson Toyota dealership in Marshall pledged a $1,000 match.
"We were already at $1,240 when they said 'The next $1,000 you get, we'll match,' " Hitt recalled.
Because the account exceeded its initial goal, Hitt increased the target to $4,000. As of Tuesday, the fundraiser was at $3,600.
Hitt said she's glad to be able to help the senior residents in their efforts to continue an activity they love.
Mizell said a huge crowd is expected at the first Friday night dance in March.
"We're going to have a big potluck dinner, and we want it to be the biggest dance in East Texas," Mizell said.
Dances are 7 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays beginning March 9 at Hallsville's Gold Hall on FM 450. Admission is $5.
The GoFundMe fundraiser is at https://www.gofundme.com/seniors-gold-hall-dance-fund .