By TRISH MEEGAN Earlier this month a strong display of family and friends with strong ties to the Warwick community was demonstrated in a glorious surprise birthday parade. People gathered in Portsmouth from all corners of Rhode Island to celebrate
Earlier this month a strong display of family and friends with strong ties to the Warwick community was demonstrated in a glorious surprise birthday parade. People gathered in Portsmouth from all corners of Rhode Island to celebrate their beloved friend Marshal. Marshal celebrated his 90th birthday on May 6; which in and of itself is an incredible feat that deserves recognition. However, there is another reason that makes this milestone even more incredible, and it is the common link that brought together this group of individuals for the occasion. Marshal is still an active ballroom dancer at The Dancing Feeling in Warwick and everyone that gathered were all members of a very loving extended family - ‘The Dancing Feeling Family’.
The birthday parade began as an idea between a few members of The Dancing Feeling during a discussion about how everyone missed being able to gather and dance together. The idea quickly took off and did not require any convincing to get many to join in. The event was organized through Facebook by Jeanne Marie Teves of Warwick, one of the many members of The Dancing Feeling who were in attendance at the parade. Word spread organically and everyone was excited to see one another for the first time in months. The Dancing Feeling was forced to close temporarily due to the COVID-19 crisis in mid-March. For many members of the studio this was a significant change from gathering multiple times a week to dance together.
The group gathered in a parking lot to get organized, whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines and wearing masks. There were forty-two cars in the parade. The first few cars were Marshal’s direct relatives and the rest of the long line was compiled by his dance family. The parade was given a police escort led by the Portsmouth Police Department. Each car was able to slow down and shout well wishes to a wonderful man who everyone considers a friend. The look of pure joy on Marshal’s face as everyone drove by brought a few in the parade to tears. Sue Winfield of Scituate said, “The parade for Marshal was awesome. Having his dance family come from all over the state to celebrate him really shows how much he is loved. The smile on his face was very heartwarming”.
The Dancing Feeling is a ballroom dance studio in Warwick co-owned by Randy Deats and Kathy St. Jean of Warwick. The Dancing Feeling has been teaching people the love of dance for more than 37 years. The premier full-service dance studio offers lessons to people of all ages and abilities. One of the things that Kathy and Randy pride themselves on is making everyone feel welcome when they come to the studio. All members of The Dancing Feeling are treated not as customers but as family. The environment fostered by the staff encourages each student to be the best they can be. The instructors help engage the students in dancing activity that brings joy to their lives. The Dancing Feeling offers lessons for both social and competitive dancers. The studio offers a multitude of options to enjoy dancing including private lessons, group classes, wedding dance lessons, social dances, special events and competitions.
Friday and Saturday social dance nights are attended by dancers from all backgrounds across New England. At the center of many of these dances, you can always find Marshal David with a full dance card and a line of ladies waiting to share in the joy that he brings to everyone that surrounds him. When you enter the studio Marshal will greet you with a twinkle in his eye and his famous salutation of “Good Morning!”, no matter what time of the day or night.
The Dancing Feeling recently announced it will be able to reopen their doors during phase 2. They have plans in place for the environment and lesson format to keep everyone safe and healthy. Many students have said that they are overjoyed with the prospect of being able to return to the studio to continue dancing. More importantly, everyone will be eager to return to their dance family. It will take some time before everyone will be allowed to gather in large groups for social dances, however there is no doubt the floor will be filled with smiling faces at the first available opportunity. Trish Meegan is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and an Athletic Trainer (ATC) working at Healy PT. She has been dancing at the Dancing Feeling for three years. She is a competitive student in Ballroom Dancing and Country Ballroom Dancing.