PANAMA CITY BEACH — When Rita Landstoffer attended her prom in 1950 she was not crowned prom queen. Decades later, Landstoffer now wears the crown.
Landstoffer and her husband Bob were selected as the king and queen of the seventh annual Winter Resident Senior Prom on Tuesday.
“It’s nice,” the Fort Wayne, Indiana, resident said. “I’m very surprised. It’s hard to believe.”
The Landstoffers weren’t the only ones crowned king and queen Tuesday. A second couple also took honors. Dan and Paulette Oswiecinski of Valley View, Ohio, claimed titles as well.
“It’s an honor,” said Dan Oswiecinski. “We’ve been coming down for quite a while. Those who were selected were people we always look up to, so this is an honor.”
The prom is one of the biggest winter visitor events hosted in Panama City Beach, said Barrie Ainsley, director of visitor services.
“We get calls in July about the theme, so people can get their wardrobes,” she said.
Although the prom is a heralded event, the Landstoffers and the Oswiecinskis will be the last kings and queens for the occasion. Ainsley said surveys from winter visitors revealed a lowered interest in the nominations made by winter visitors.
The prom still will reign supreme, even without its royal dignitaries, as Ainsley said the prom was created for a larger purpose.
“We wanted to give back to the winter residents and make it a nice event for them to talk about, and to celebrate them being here,” she said.
The theme of Tuesday’s prom was “Motown and More,” and Harvey Pope of Canada said he loved it.
“I’m a big Diana Ross fan,” he said.
His wife Helga was his date. The couple have visited Panama City Beach eight times to escape the northern winter.
“We just love it here,” said Helga. “We try to come to this event every year.”
Harvey couldn’t agree more.
“I’m happy to be here, and we didn’t have any snow,” he joked.
More than 700 people signed up for the prom that included free prom photos, meals and more.
Bill and Sandy Breeding of Lake Ozark, Missouri, were among the many couples.
“It’s a good place to meet people,” said Bill. “It’s always a good time.”